May 3, 2007 4:08 AM PDT

The Web, Ozzie make their mark at Microsoft

LAS VEGAS--Is it time to start talking about the "new Microsoft"?

At the company's Mix '07 conference here this week, the star was Silverlight, Redmond's browser plug-in for creating interactive Web applications often done with Adobe Systems' Flash. The parade of announcements surrounding Silverlight, including a video-streaming service, brings to life some significant changes in the way Microsoft designs software.

It also demonstrates how Ray Ozzie, chief software architect and Bill Gates' successor, is making his mark at the software giant.

For years, detractors have complained that because Microsoft's primary focus was Windows, its software was not fully in line with industry standards and its commitment for products on other operating systems wavered.

At Mix, however, Microsoft executives deliberately sought to highlight the company's intention to make Silverlight "ubiquitous" on a range of devices and to complement its software with Internet-delivered services.

In an interview, Ozzie said Microsoft's moves to embrace the Web more deeply with Silverlight and services are meant to better address an audience that is increasingly using Web services.

"I don't necessarily think that it would be accurate to characterize the increasing openness as a backing away from Windows. I think what it is is a reflection that Windows is in a broader technology environment," Ozzie said.

The Mix announcements and Ozzie's keynote speech show that Microsoft is making progress on its long-stated claims to build a platform for building Internet applications, said Peter O'Kelly, an analyst at the Burton Group.

By providing tooling and, through its Live brand of programming interfaces, a set of services for building Web applications, O'Kelly said, Microsoft is creating an offering for customers such as small Web companies that may have no interest in its largest product lines, Office and Windows.

"It's an enlightened Microsoft. To engage with this ecosystem in a constructive way, they have to be part of the ecosystem," he said. "In some respects, you could argue that Microsoft has been assimilated into the Internet culture."

Speaking to developers
At Mix, billed as a "conversation" with Web developers and designers, Microsoft started delivering key pieces of its Web strategy.

The company released an alpha version of Silverlight 1.1 that will let developers use .Net languages, including dynamic languages, to write applications that will run on Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari on Mac OS, with handheld devices and potentially Linux to come.

In a nod to the popularity of open source among Web start-ups and developers, Microsoft said it will release the source code for its Dynamic Language Runtime--software for running applications written with dynamic, or scripting, languages--under its Permissive License, which allows outsiders to modify and distribute the code.

Microsoft also introduced Silverlight Streaming, a service, now in alpha testing, through which the company will host and deliver up to 4GB of video in Silverlight format to Web pages for free.

Ozzie and other Microsoft executives said to expect more services like Silverlight Streaming. These services will provide basic infrastructure, such as data storage and network authentication, as well as access to online data, such as contact information for its Windows Live Spaces users, for building mashup applications.

It also released Expression Studio, a Web design application built to include close integration with Microsoft's flagship Visual Studio development tool.

Related coverage
Microsoft's latest spin on Web apps
At Mix '07, software giant turns spotlight on Silverlight, its Flash challenger, and opens up about its Web strategy.

Microsoft developers' reactions to the Silverlight announcement were generally positive because it allows them to create Web applications for both Windows and Mac OS with familiar products and skills.

Online banking application developer Intelligent Environments, for instance, said Silverlight is appealing because the company's staff of C# programmers will be able to write Web applications with a compelling user interface. Until now, it had hired Flash developers as contractors, said Mike Warriner, chief technology officer of Intelligent Environments.

Miguel de Icaza, a Novell vice president and head of the Mono open-source project, said he will create a version of Silverlight for Linux.

In a blog, de Icaza said that because Silverlight offers substantial front-end development capabilities, he will forgo the Mono project's plan to create an open-source version of Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), a Windows-specific, more comprehensive version of Silverlight.

"Unlike WPF, that requires people to rewrite their software to take advantage of it, Silverlight is aimed at the Web and it will become a nice complement, a way of spicing up existing Web applications without rewriting what already works," de Icaza wrote.

CONTINUED: Serious consideration…
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Should spend more time fixing their OS's
Rushing another product to market to upstage Apple and not
Adobe for this is in Apple pipeline and ready for the new iTune
updates. Silverlight will end up just like every other M$
product, a complete mess. Every product that M$ has launched
it past six years , the Xbox, Zune, XP, WinCE, Vista and
WinServers, I could keep going but really it isn't worth it. None
of these have been a successfully finished product.
interesting reading go to
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
extract from site
?Media Center and MSN TV
?Windows Mobile and WinCE PDAs
?Origami and the Tablet PCs
?the Zune

... all of which have been resounding failures as products.
Posted by Sniche (108 comments )
Reply Link Flag
OS may have been a flop but others weren't
First, the Xbox is a newcomer to the video game market and has managed to win over huge chunks of it in a relatively short time. The 360 is a good gaming system and it would be hard to call either of these a "mess"

Second, the Zune is an awesome media player. Bigger screen, which is also very difficult to scratch, and better sound quality than the iPoo, videos are actually worth watching, and it has a built in radio tuner. It has all this and the same capacity as the iPod for the same price. It also has managed to take almost 10% of market share in less than a year. Not a failure at all.

Vista has been a flop but XP has turned into a relatively stable operating system that isn't as bug infested as people make it out to be. Oh, and don't forget that it actually has a TWO button mouse. That's something (cr)Apple had to copy from pcs.
Posted by shldvebnacwby (37 comments )
Link Flag
What makes Vista a flop?
There are more Vista users than Mac OS users. Does this mean that Mac OS is a flop? Additionally;

1. Apple didn't write iTunes.
2. I have an Xbox. I know many people who have an XBox. I know no one with a Mac. The first Xbox overall was a slight profit. But Microsoft really don't care; like the media center edition and the Zune it was an experiment just to enter the market.
3. In what way is Windows Mobile a failure? It is no more a failure than PalmOS is. It is a niche product, just like the iPhone will be. (Unless they reduce the price.)
Posted by Siegfried Schtauffen (269 comments )
Link Flag
Taking Care of Customers
You would think that taking care of customers would be on the list of things that the "New Microsoft" would like to do.

I didn't see that anywhere in this article. Bigger, Better, and More of the Same is not going to keep MicroSoft in business.

MicroSoft has also started engaging in practices that actually cost customers money and interfere in fair use. Biting the hand that feeds you is never good practice. That's where their real battle is going to be waged.
Posted by Renegade Knight (13748 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Open up Microsoft
Microsoft you know it's not a triangle and that 3 is far beyond us at the moment so open up with no fear of emf and let the world evolve and you will prosper i know it in my curvy old bones to be the one.
Posted by wildchild_plasma_gyro (296 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Color me skeptical
I'd be more inclined to believe all of this new-found openness if
you could author it on other OSes independent of other MS

Oh, and if Ballmer were gone.
Posted by ppgreat (1128 comments )
Reply Link Flag
We don't need .net
LAMP, AJAX are better than .not.

We don't need .not.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wow, Microsoft is trying to take over another established market. You make this sound like something different? They sure now how to innovate.
Posted by RonaldWL (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cross-platform... yyyyeah...
I love the idea that there will be a lot of cross-platform capabilities,
and I hope they get there. Currently their Expressions page has no
Mac authoring software. Their Expression Media is the only Mac
compatible tool, and that's just because they bought iView
MediaPro software which has always been Mac anyway. There's at
least a Silverlight plugin for Mac, so hopefully more will come.
Probability of that happening is another thing altogether.
Posted by Lucky Lou (88 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Just like Zune
Not only is Zune a piece of crap, if you include all the hard drive based media players it might have 3% of the market.

This new attempt to replace Flash will be just as successful.

The sooner MS dies the better for everyone.
Posted by MSSlayer (1074 comments )
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