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October 17, 2002—In this issue:
- Microsoft Cancels Subscription-Software Trial, Advances Office Toward .NET
2. .NET NEWS AND VIEWS
- MEC: Greenwich, Jupiter on Tap
3. DOT-TECH PERSPECTIVES
- Introducing UDDI 3.0: Subscription Services
- Hey Denver and San Francisco! Got Security Concerns?
- Planning on Getting Certified? Make Sure To Pick Up Our New eBook!
- Event Highlight: "Designing SQL Server Security for .NET" Web Seminar
6. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Program Perl in .NET
- Submit Top Product Ideas
7. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, news editor, [email protected])
Two big developments this week include Microsoft's cancellation of a software-subscription pilot program, which has enormous implications for the company's future. Plus, a new member of the Microsoft Office family is seeking to unite back-end XML Web services with the desktop.
Subscription-Software Pilot "Completed"
Microsoft recently cancelled a subscription-software trial in Australia, New Zealand, and France that the company had intended to form the foundation of a worldwide rollout in 2003 of subscription-based software and services. Microsoft's End-User Subscription Licensing (ESL) for Office XP program has been a bust with users in the three aforementioned countries. Many users were surprised to discover that their software applications would stop functioning after a year if the subscription wasn't renewed. The pilot program had been in place since May 2001.
Microsoft blames the failure on consumer confusion. Although the company sold 10 million Office XP licenses in Australia, New Zealand, and France, only 10,000 customers signed on for the ESL version of Office XP. "Although Office XP \[End-User\] Subscription Licence was a popular offering, research showed the subscription model was not well understood by customers participating in the pilot," said Tony Wilkinson, Office product manager for Microsoft Australia, in a press release announcing the completion of the trial. "Customers and computer resellers from across New Zealand, Australia, and France had the opportunity to be the first in the world to assess the subscription licensing model. From their feedback, we learned that customers find subscriptions a useful method of purchasing software but are not ready to fully adopt this process."
That's for sure. Once heralded as the future of software delivery and the white knight that would safeguard Microsoft's future financials, subscription software is now on the ropes. In Australia, New Zealand, and France, potential ESL customers could purchase a 1-year subscription to Office XP, essentially paying the full price of a complete Office version every 3 years if they continually renewed. But even with the low upfront cost, few users were interested in the deal. "The consumer market just isn't ready for subscription-based software yet," Wilkinson said. "The concept of software delivered as a service is new to consumers and right now the target market just didn't understand."
Happily, Microsoft gave customers who did purchase the subscription Office XP version a full perpetual version of the software for free. However, emerging from the flaming ruins of this important software trial, Microsoft now faces a suddenly uncertain future in subscription software.
So what now? Microsoft will ship Office 11 in mid-2003, and a November beta 1 release might offer clues to any plans the company has for subscription software. But even a few years ago, when Microsoft was first investigating subscription-software schemes, the company realized that getting consumers accustomed to such a huge change to the status quo would take a while. "This is a long-term transition," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in late 2000. "We're going to be selling \[traditional\] copies of Microsoft Office for many, many years. This is not a quick transition perhaps, but this is the direction of transformation that we're describing." In other words, Microsoft will be back with a better subscription-software story. The company won't give up this easily.
XDocs Brings XML Data to the Desktop
On a related note, Microsoft recently announced that a new member of the Office family will likely debut in mid-2003 as part of Office 11. Dubbed XDocs, this application provides a feature-rich, forms-based front end to data that various back-end servers (made by Microsoft and other companies) are emitting in standards-based XML format. The idea is that XDocs, by providing a client environment to consume data, can leverage the investment that companies have made in XML.
Today, Web applications typically deliver these front ends. But Web applications have limitations that XDocs addresses. First, Web applications aren't usually very rich environments, and they lack many of the features we've come to take for granted in Office, such as spelling and grammar checking. Second, Web applications are temporary and thus inappropriate for transmitting large amounts of data. For example, although you could tie a college-application back-end to a Web application, the amount of data an applicant would need to supply in one sitting would be prohibitively large. However, with a smart client-side application such as XDocs, an applicant could supply the necessary information at his or her leisure and simply upload the application when finished. And because the document would be an Office application, all the features users love in the Office suite would be available.
XDocs isn't exactly a win for consumers, but it has important business ramifications and will likely be a huge Office 11 selling point for businesses. I'll examine XDocs in more detail when the first beta arrives, sometime before the end of 2002.
2. .NET NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
Let the code names fly. At this year's MEC 2002 (formerly known as the Microsoft Exchange Conference) Microsoft announced several upcoming server products, including Greenwich—a realtime communications server that the company originally meant to ship as part of Windows .NET Server (Win.NET Server) 2003—and Jupiter, which will consolidate three of the company's e-business servers into one product.
Greenwich will provide enterprise Instant Messaging (IM) and team room capabilities, said Microsoft Senior Vice President Paul Flessner, and although Flessner refused to discuss a delivery timetable, Microsoft representatives had previously told me that the company planned to ship Greenwich within a few months of Win.NET Server's public release. The product will be tightly integrated into Win.NET Server and will extend the consumer-oriented IM platform we use today in Windows Messenger with features that make the technology more suitable for the enterprise.
3. DOT-TECH PERSPECTIVES
(contributed by Christa Anderson, [email protected])
Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) registries were designed to be dynamic, rather than static. A static UDDI registry would be no more compelling than an installation CD-ROM. If a registry's contents are dynamic, then people and applications using that registry will want to know when changes are available. With UDDI 3.0, client computers and applications can subscribe to a UDDI registry and receive notification—either through email or a Web service—of registry changes or updates as the changes occur. For example, subscribers would be notified when new businesses or services are added to a UDDI registry, or could learn about changes to existing businesses and services (including whether they disappear from the registry). Someone running a private UDDI registry could subscribe to a public registry to learn about changes to the public registry, then replicate the changes to the private registry. A portal to several registries could subscribe to those registries to keep the portal's subscribers informed about new developments.
In other words, subscription can be a handy capability. The UDDI 3.0 specification outlines how subscription services can work and describes the structures that must be in place to support them. Subscribers aren't required to subscribe to an entire registry but can choose among the businesses, services, technical descriptions, or related businesses that the registry contains. If a subscriber owns a business that a registry contains, the subscriber can be notified of changes or additions to "publisher assertions," a UDDI feature that links business entities in a registry by relationship. Subscribers to a registry typically are authorized clients for the node that houses the registry. Therefore, subscribers typically must authenticate with the node before saving subscription requests. Individual nodes, including those in the UDDI Business Registry, can establish subscription policies (e.g., supporting only a subset of subscription APIs, thus limiting the power of the subscription; charging for subscriptions; requiring authentication to subscribe).
UDDI 3.0 supports two kinds of subscription. Asynchronous subscription informs subscribers of registry changes either through email or a separate Web service called a "subscription listener." Because registries can change frequently, asynchronous subscription notifies subscribers of changes not when the changes happen but at intervals that the subscriber specifies. (However, a registry's manager can set a mandatory interval by applying a policy to the nodes that host the registry.) Asynchronous subscription keeps subscribers from drowning in information overload. Synchronous subscription, rather than relying on email or a separate service, uses an API to return registry changes to the subscriber. A subscriber might have more than one subscription, each with its own settings defined in a subscription filter structure. This subscription filter controls the information that a subscription returns and the way that the information is presented.
For more details about subscription services in UDDI 3.0, including the names of the APIs and structures that define a subscription's settings, check out the UDDI 3.0 specification at
(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)
Time is running out to register for the Windows & .NET Magazine Security Road Show 2002, coming next week to Denver and San Francisco. Register now and hear Mark Minasi and Paul Thurrott address the topic on everyone's mind: security. Sign up today before it's too late!
"The Insider's Guide to IT Certification" eBook is hot off the press and contains everything you need to know to help you save time and money while preparing for certification exams from Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and CompTIA and have a successful career in IT. Get your copy of the Insider's Guide today!
November 12, 2002
1:00 p.m. EST; 10:00 a.m. PST
Unlike traditional client/server applications, .NET applications don't maintain consistent connections to their data sources, and logins can come from many sources simultaneously. In addition, data usually resides on multiple servers, rather than one database server, and in many cases, one server needs to retrieve data from other servers to satisfy a user's query. So, instead of a simple 2-way relationship between the client and server, .NET creates a web of interconnected applications and services that each handles a small part of the total solution. This 75-minute Web seminar, presented by Microsoft SQL Server expert Morris Lewis, will show you how to adapt SQL Server security to support truly distributed applications.
For other upcoming events, check out the Windows & .NET Magazine Event Calendar.
6. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Carolyn Mader, [email protected])
Prentice Hall PTR released ″Programming Perl in the .NET Environment,″ a book by Yevgeny Menaker, Michael Saltzman, and Robert J. Oberg that will help you make the most of using Perl with .NET, regardless of whether you′re familiar with Perl or .NET. The book provides code samples and a comprehensive case study to show you how to build object-oriented (OO) applications, GUIs, and database applications. The 495-page book costs $44.99. Contact Prentice Hall PTR at 800-282-0693.
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