September 8, 2005 1:10 PM PDT

Microsoft Web plan takes aim at Google

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August 26, 2005
Microsoft will take aim at rival Google next week with a new Web development plan.

The software company plans to open access to its MSN and other public Web sites to let developers assemble new applications that build on those sites--a technique used successfully at Google and at other Web companies to promote their properties.

Microsoft will detail its "Web platform" strategy at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles next week, company executives told CNET News.com. It intends to publish the application programming interfaces, or APIs, to some of its public Web sites, including MSN Search, and deliver better tools to write those applications.

The goal: to embrace the emerging model, often called Web 2.0 or the programmable Web, where new applications are built using pieces of existing, public Web sites. Rather than simply providing access to Web pages, these companies treat their Web sites as a development platform, much like an operating system. For example, a third-party developer could write an application, or "mash-up," that pulls location information from a person's blog and plots it on a map using Google Maps or a similar service.

But Microsoft has to walk a fine line, analysts said, by recognizing the popularity of new Web technologies while still encouraging the use of its cash cow Windows and Office products.

The move to lure more developers to MSN expands the competitive battleground between the software giant and Google, a company it is now competing with for developer mindshare. A Google representative wasn't immediately available to comment. Acrimony between the two companies has come to light in recent days, as they spar in court over former Microsoft executive Kai-Fu Lee, who was hired by Google.

Microsoft's online rivals, notably Google and Yahoo, already provide the hooks that let third-party Web developers write applications that tap into their Web services, such as search and mapping. Because these Web applications rely on a Web browser, they can, in theory, run on any operating system.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has always drawn third-party developers to Windows. But even with its commitment to Windows, analysts said, Microsoft needs to more fully address the growing popularity of online Web development. Having a healthy ecosystem of third-party add-on products helps drive traffic to Web properties.

"There are some real competitive issues going on, and (Microsoft) needs to respond, not just with products and offerings for consumers but also (with) compelling products and APIs for developers," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Jupitermedia. "There's a recognition that people are embracing the Web as a platform, and they (Microsoft) want to be there as well."

Microsoft has already given developers access to some of its Web sites. MapPoint, for example, has had a Web services interface for a few years. But the company is ramping up efforts to make its Web sites programmable and customizable by end users, mirroring the strategies at Google, Yahoo, Amazon.com, eBay and a growing number of Web sites.

Opening up the Web store
At the developers conference next week, Microsoft plans to publish the API to its MSN Search service, which can be used by developers through the Simple Object Access Protocol, or SOAP. The noncommercial license will let people produce 10,000 search results per day per Internet address, said Seth Demsey, group program manager for MSN Search. Microsoft will release an API for its desktop search as well.

Also next week, the company will announce a free commercial license to use a JavaScript "control" to display data from its Virtual Earth mapping service. The MSN Messenger group, meanwhile, will allow developers to

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5 comments

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More original ideas from Microsoft
Unfortunately, all their original ideas were *originally* someone else's.
Posted by Eggs Ackley (34 comments )
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More original comments from the chorus
Unfortunately the chorus has been singing the same sorry theme for years on end and have lost all credability.

No where does the article imply that MS was presenting this as an "original" thought, to the contrary the gist is that MS is playing catch up by imitating it's competitors in this area.

But of course you can't see that just like you can't see the cases where MS has lead the pack with original ideas that others have had to copy because you've convinced yourself that because it's MS it must be copied. I'll leave it to you to find examples of MS originality because that's the only way you'll get over your mental problem.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
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Companies are rarely the first
Google was hardly the first to implement web services APIs, and they just "copied" everyone with a new instant messenger. In the computer field using good ideas built by others is a great thing for the industry. Blizzard "copied" the gameplay of Command and Conquer and made it better. Why reinvent the wheel. That is what the whole open source movement is about. This is not a defence of Microsoft, since I am not excited about these APIs. I think Google does a better job on the web. I find it perfectly fine and even commendable however, that Microsoft is moving to giving these tools.
Posted by tsm26 (81 comments )
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Will that work?
How many programmers that program for Microsoft products are there that will really volunteer their time to develop anything for free? The few products that I see being developed for free for Windows are (1) not the full version that you buy, (2) riddled with adware, (3) a trojan horse, (4) is some other malware, (5) will expire in so many days, (6) are partially disabled, (7) developed by a large company that wants more people to use that company's products (e.g. Java, Internet Explorer, Flash, Adobe Reader, etc.), or (8) are open source adaptations for Windows (there are very few of these, unless you compile them yourself--usually, the open source ones are developed primarily for some variant *nix, where there is already a large community of developers that volunteer time).
Posted by Shoa_Creek (79 comments )
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