San Francisco, CA — Microsoft Corp. unveiled its vision of the Web as a huge, decentralized development platform in which services are integrated with any application in order to reach consumers or business partners.
Microsoft President Steve Ballmer unveiled the company’s view of the future of Web development at a news conference here with reporters and analysts, two days before Microsoft’s Developer Days ’99, the software giant’s day-long workshops for developers held across the nation.
Key to Microsoft’s emerging architecture is XML (Extensible Markup Language), which will be the foundation for the exchange of data with enhanced features, such as qualifying service providers or imposing requirements such as deadlines for responses to requests.
“XML is really the critical foundation,” Ballmer said, describing the markup language for moving data between disparate applications as the “secret sauce” for developers.
In association with today’s event, Microsoft said the final major test release of the upcoming Windows 2000 will be available Wednesday. Windows 2000 Release Candidate 2 “feels pretty good,” Ballmer said.
Major reworking under way
Ballmer said Microsoft has embarked on a major reworking of all its tools to fit this new paradigm. Support for technologies such as XML will be a native component of Microsoft’s platforms and of key tools such as the next generation of SQL Server, which Ballmer said will have XML-based storage.
“There’s something new coming in every dimension,” Ballmer said.
Key products in Microsoft’s DNA 2000 (Distributed Internet Architecture) initiative include Windows 2000, scheduled to ship before the end of the year; the updated SQL Server, which Ballmer referred to as SQL Server 2000 but has not yet been formally named; Visual Studio 7; the BizTalk Server, to be available in beta this fall; and Site Server Commerce Edition.
Visual Basic, along with Visual C++, will contain a new underlying architecture to provide “drag and drop development for Web services,” said Paul Maritz, Microsoft’s group vice president for tools, who followed Ballmer’s presentation.
Microsoft developers demonstrated an internal version of the forthcoming Visual Basic 7, promised for delivery next year, that generated and populated a table of stock quotations, and exercised server-side logic to add analysis and recommendations with a bare minimum of low-level programming.
“This new version of Visual Basic will be to the new Web what the old version of Visual Basic was to the GUI world,” Maritz told the gathering.
Today’s event wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. Ballmer’s presentation was interrupted for about 10 minutes when a glitch in the PA system caused another company’s presentation to be broadcast to the Microsoft gathering.
“I’m feeling slightly mortified,” Ballmer said afterwards.