February 17, 2004 2:36 PM PST
Microsoft, Intel weave networking standard
The companies, along with Canon and Java software maker BEA Systems, on Tuesday published a technical specification, called WS-Discovery. The protocol is designed for situations in which network connections between devices are done in an ad hoc way. For example, the software will enable a personal digital assistant to locate available services such as printing or file sharing on a wireless network.
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"Web services is coming home," Louis Burns, corporate vice president at Intel, said at the forum.
The companies intend to submit WS-Discovery to a standards organization but did not say when such a move will occur. Products incorporating the standard are expected to show up next year, Burns said.
The companies said WS-Discovery is intended to work with existing Web services protocols--a set of Extensible Markup Language-based standards that simplify information sharing--for finding available services. WS-Discovery will demand less bandwidth and won't require a constant network connection, as the Universal Description Discovery and Integration (UDDI) protocol does, the companies said.
The companies said current Web services specifications have simplified computer-to-computer data exchanges but have not addressed noncomputer devices such as peripherals, computer appliances and consumer electronics. WS-Discovery is intended to be a simple method for providing Web services to these devices, which tend to have temporary network connections and limited processing power, according to the companies.
One analyst familiar with WS-Discovery said the new specification does address shortcomings in UDDI, which acts as a registry of available Web services.
"Think of UDDI as a big phone book, and in order to find a service, it has to have a phone number. Well, what do you do when a service is not always on the network?" said Ron Schmelzer, an analyst at Web services research company ZapThink. "UDDI isn't enough to handle these sometimes-connected services."
CNET News.com's Ina Fried contributed to this report.