MS to further detail Web services for devices

Microsoft next week plans to detail the next steps it is taking to extend Web services to devices such as printers, digital cameras and consumer electronics.

At its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC), an annual event for hardware makers, Microsoft is scheduled to discuss a "Web Services for Devices API" (application program interface), or WSDAPI, described in the conference agenda as an implementation of a new devices profile for Web services.

WSDAPI includes a runtime and tools to generate code for specific device classes and services, according to the agenda. It expands on WS-Discovery, a Web services specification Microsoft introduced in February, according to a source familiar with the technology. WS-Discovery describes a way for devices to find and connect to Web services in a simple way and could replace universal plug-and- play technology. Intel, Canon and BEA Systems helped develop WS-Discovery.

WSDAPI is part of a long-term Microsoft strategy and likely won't show up in products until a few years from now, another source familiar with the announcement said.

At WinHEC in Seattle, Microsoft's Windows Printing and Imaging team will also present more in-depth how Web services would work with printers and imaging devices. The team plans to discuss security, discovery and eventing models for the technology as well as device protocols, according to the conference agenda.

Microsoft is also planning to introduce a management protocol based on SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), called Web services for Management Extension, or WMX. Microsoft will pitch WMX as a successor to the Simple Network Management Protocol, or SNMP, which is commonly used today for network and systems management.

The Web services announcements are expected to be part of a keynote presentation on Tuesday by Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates. In his presentation, Gates is also expected to highlight long-term trends in processors, storage, networking, graphics and peripherals. On-stage demonstrations are scheduled to include a peek at the future of home computing, with participation from Hewlett-Packard.

At WinHEC, Microsoft tells hardware makers where it is headed with Windows and related software products so they can allocate resources accordingly. In addition to Web services, Microsoft is planning to provide details about its plans for products including Windows Media DRM (Digital Rights Management), Windows XP Media Center Edition and Windows XP 64-Bit Edition.

Additionally, Microsoft is discussing a new "auxiliary display platform" for mobile PCs. This could mean that the vendor is adding support to Windows for extra displays. This could allow a PC maker to add a display on the outside of a notebook so a user can, for example, check the time, battery status or see if new e-mail has arrived.

Attendees, of course, will also hear a lot about Longhorn, the code name for the next release of Windows. However, while Microsoft will talk about hardware drivers, graphics and security in Longhorn, the product, expected in 2006, is too far out to provide complete hardware specifications, said Greg Sullivan, a lead product manager in Microsoft's Windows client group.

"We will have guidance, Longhorn is still in a stage of development where we don't have the final system requirements," he said. WinHEC attendees will receive an a pre-beta preview version of Longhorn, an update to the preview version that was distributed in October last year at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference.

WinHEC sessions on Longhorn will discuss topics including the Longhorn Driver Kit, location-based services in Longhorn, device installation changes, support for communication and collaboration applications, wireless WAN (wide area network) roaming and the Longhorn print architecture, according to the conference agenda.

Next-Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB), the security technology scheduled to debut in Longhorn, is also on the agenda. NGSCB is a combination of new hardware and software that Microsoft says will greatly improve the security of PCs, although critics have raised concerns about user privacy. Microsoft demonstrated NGSCB for the first time at last year's WinHEC.

Microsoft declined to provide any additional information on the WinHEC agenda or announcements.

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