Groove, Accenture to demo .NET apps

Microsoft will continue its hard core push to educate and inspire developers about its raft of .NET products and services at its Professional Developer's Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles next week, with a handful of developers and partners showing off some early work that takes advantage of that technology.

One company that appears to be increasingly important in Microsoft's evolving Web services strategy is peer-to-peer pioneer Groove Networks Inc., which Microsoft bought a 20 percent stake in last week. Groove next week will demonstrate a prototype of a client-based p-to-p product designed to work with Microsoft's upcoming Pocket PC.

Using SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), Groove has built an extensible integration framework called the Remote Client Framework, which allows the client to interact with any other environment capable of processing SOAP.

"Ultimately the goal of the Remote Client Framework is to allow us to integrate with other environments either through a third-party application or through some other Groove client that we can connect through end-to-end security to tap into the native Groove environment," said Matt Pope, manager of device platforms for Groove, based in Beverly, Ma.

Groove will demonstrate how the client version of Groove can exchange data seamlessly with a version of Microsoft's Outlook for the Pocket PC and show it working within a Groove environment.

Although the prototype does not support Microsoft's Instant Messaging and Windows messenger, Pope said Groove is "seriously considering" such support in the final version of the product. He declined to say when the product would be completed.

Accenture Ltd., one of the world's largest consulting companies, will also show off its first application prototype of based on .NET My Services. The product is designed to assess how emerging technologies will impact the package delivery industry.

Called Accenture's Dynamic Delivery, the product is using several .NET My Services components including .NET Presence, .NET Calendar, .NET Notifications, .NET Wallet, and .NET Locator. The idea behind the product is to fundamentally change the delivery paradigm from one of being address-oriented to one of being user-centric by allowing services such as dynamic package rerouting.

"We think this will resonate well with anyone who has missed a delivery and got one of those sticky notes that says, 'sorry we missed you, we'll try again'," said Vaiju Shah, a manager at Accenture's Technology Labs. "We can reduce missed deliveries by better using calendar and location information and hereby create a new chargeable service, in this case dynamic rerouting of a package to someone no matter where they are," Shah said.

The new prototype reportedly addresses a handful of basic business problems associated with package delivery, according to Shah. For instance, the application alerts a customer when a package is scheduled for delivery. That customer is then directed to a Web site that authorizes that delivery, as well as being able to have the shipment immediately re-routed to a new address where the customer will be located.

Peter Urban, an analyst at AMR Research in Boston, said that Microsoft's technologies, along with the early version software that other vendors such as Sun, IBM, HP, and Oracle, the Web services products are maturing enough that companies can start to use them in testing environments.

"Microsoft is the furthest along from a development perspective," Urban said.

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