XML will play a prominent role in emerging Microsoft technologies, in accordance with the company's product interoperability strategy.
The design is expected to appeal to medium and large businesses as a cost-effective means of communicating across different programming languages and operating systems.
Migrating between different technologies can be an expensive affair for businesses that already have made investments in existing systems, explained Nils van Boxsel, .Net Platform Architect of Microsoft Australia. But software that is designed to work across heterogeneous platforms reduces cost by eliminating the need for complete system overhauls.
To Microsoft, interoperability is about leveraging existing investments and deriving benefits from different architectures and applications. "Our strategy is to work with existing systems now, but as we move forward, we will design our software for interoperability," van Boxsel said.
As it is a self-describing language, XML is easily translated by any appropriately-designed application and thus allows information to be understood by a variety of systems.
"XML gives us a technologically agnostic way of delivering systems," van Boxsel said, "[by providing] a format that describes, as well as provides the data."
Microsoft's new products, which include Windows Vista, Office 2007 and .NET 3.0, will be centered on XML (eXtensible Markup Language). Vista will use XML to publish RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds on users' desktops, while Office 2007 will save files in the XML format by default.
.NET 3.0, which was formerly called WinFX, will provide a rich support for XML, allowing its Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) subsystem to facilitate interoperation between software developers and heterogeneous systems.
WCF-enabled systems will communicate with other platforms via XML-based SOAP messaging under the WS-* standard space protocol. Communication between WCF systems will be further optimized via a binary channel.
A key feature of WCF is that it separates the implementation of a communication channel and the channel itself. For a WCF-enabled system, this means that switching between SOAP messaging and a WCF-WCF binary channel is simply a matter of configuration after the channel is set up.
.NET 3.0 will be included as part of Windows Vista, but, like its predecessors, will remain a free download for users of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. While the release of Vista is not expected until at least November this year, the beta version of .NET 3.0 can be downloaded from http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/download/en/default.mspx.