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October 3, 2002—In this issue:
- MSN 8 Takes a Page from the .NET My Services Playbook
2. .NET NEWS AND VIEWS
- Microsoft, ARM Drive New Support for Windows CE .NET
3. DOT-TECH PERSPECTIVES
- Introducing UDDI 3.0: Changes to the Discovery Model
- Mark Minasi and Paul Thurrott Are Bringing Their Security Expertise to You!
- Take Our Quick Survey and You Could Win a $200 Gift Certificate!
- Windows .NET Server: A First Look
6. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Strengthen Your Grasp of .NET Development
- 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])
Remember .NET My Services? Originally hailed as a Web services tour de force that would move Microsoft definitively into the subscription software market, .NET My Services (formerly code-named HailStorm), died a sudden death earlier this year when the company announced that it was abandoning the service. Microsoft designed .NET My Services to provide core identity services to consumers and businesses on the Web, including email, contact information, and calendar and eWallet functionality. .NET UPDATE readers might recall from the April 18, 2002, issue that Microsoft cancelled .NET My Services because none of the company's corporate partners were willing to cede control of private customer data to the software giant's servers. Microsoft then decided to develop a new server product for its partners that would let those companies implement proprietary identity services. That product, which will take the form of a new .NET Enterprise Server, is expected sometime in 2003.
One obvious piece missing from the revised HailStorm plan is the consumer side of the market. At the time Microsoft announced the HailStorm cancellation, the company didn't reveal how it would eventually make .NET My Services products available to end users, although it did mention that its upcoming server product would power MSN online properties as a natural extension to the .NET Passport service. Since then, the company has been mute on the subject.
However, on October 24, Microsoft will release MSN 8, the most recent version of its online service. After looking at a beta version of the software, I think MSN 8 is targeted to deliver many of the same services Microsoft had originally intended .NET My Services to deliver. Because MSN is a paid subscription service, MSN 8 delivers the most important aspect of the .NET vision, at least from Microsoft's perspective: a regular revenue stream.
Naturally, Microsoft has had to adjust the way it delivers MSN services online because many of these services are available for free to non-MSN subscribers today. That situation will change with the MSN 8 release. Here's what's new in MSN 8.
No More Freebies
In earlier MSN versions, Microsoft provided the MSN client, originally known as MSN Explorer, free to Windows users and included it in Windows XP. This Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE)-based client provides a relatively intractable interface to various MSN services, such as email, MSN Calendar, and MSN Money. But the MSN client is free no more: With MSN 8, the MSN client can be had only as part of the MSN dial-up and broadband subscriber packages or for a $10 per month fee that will give non-MSN users the client and various premium subscription services. Beta testers working with MSN 8 describe the release as friendly, more intuitive, and more malleable than its MSN Explorer predecessors. But the software is still tightly integrated in MSN services; you can't, for example, change your MSN 8 home page to a non-MSN site.
Premium Subscription Services
MSN 8 subscribers will get access to unique Web services, including financial services and investing through MSN Money, and photo sharing through MSN Photos. Sites such as MSN Learning & Research, MSN Health, and the company's other online properties will offer content exclusive to MSN 8 users.
Features Similar to .NET My Services
Features such as MSN email, MSN calendaring, .NET Passport Wallet and location services, and other services sound similar to what Microsoft originally planned to offer through .NET My Services. This is no coincidence. These features will be subtly improved in the MSN 8 client, thanks to better UIs and integrated access through the MSN client.
MSN users now access a Web-based email client similar to Hotmail's. MSN 8 will feature a much nicer-looking UI, better junk-mail removal, antivirus functionality, message-filtering capabilities, and parental controls. MSN 8 will ship with a unique version of MSN Messenger 5, Microsoft's upcoming Instant Messaging (IM) client. MSN Messenger 5 for MSN 8 adds an integrated HTML panel called MSN Today, a more functional address book, a "Browse the Web Together" feature that lets two users browse the same Web pages while chatting, and a contacts-sharing feature.
ICS and Home Networking
In addition to being the only major ISP that allows and supports Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) and home networking for free, Microsoft will offer MSN 8 users a discount on the new Microsoft Broadband Networking line of products, which includes wired and wireless base stations and various networking adapters. The company is offering kits for home PCs and notebooks that bundle various products together as well. For example, you can have the $150 wireless base station for only $120 if you're an MSN 8 subscriber. But the real benefit is that Microsoft will offer phone support to help you set up your home network and configure your shared Internet connection between multiple computers if you don't have the time, ability, or inclination to do so on your own. Other ISPs charge additional monthly fees for such a feature, if they offer it at all.
Microsoft faces a few problems with MSN 8 adoption, the most obvious of which affects its high-speed service, MSN Broadband. Although most US homes have access to at least one broadband alternative to dial-up connections, only 10 percent actually take advantage of the service. On the other hand, broadband adoption is increasing rapidly, and new services such as MSN 8, which offer unique services and content, might help further drive broadband adoption.
MSN 8 must also tackle its nemesis, AOL, which attracts several times the number of subscribers that MSN does. However, AOL's parent company, AOL Time Warner, is experiencing financial difficulties, and the most recent AOL versions have been lackluster upgrades with outdated interfaces and poor email clients. With an intriguing advertising campaign aimed at converting AOL users to MSN and a compelling set of MSN 8-only features, Microsoft might just win over some AOL users. Most important, Microsoft is finally addressing the consumer side of the Web services market with a product that's worth investigating. After 2 years of hype, MSN 8 is Microsoft's best example yet of .NET subscription software services in action.
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2. .NET NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
At a joint Executive Summit on September 18, Microsoft and embedded microprocessor maker ARM announced that three silicon makers— Motorola, STMicroelectronics, and NeoMagic—will develop products optimized for Windows CE .NET (formerly code-named Talisker). The companies will make Pocket PCs and other mobile devices based on Windows CE .NET to run on the ARM architecture, which is widely considered to be one of the most efficient and speedy embedded processors currently available. The announcement means that Microsoft now has three major chipmakers—Intel, Texas Instruments, and ARM—supporting its Windows CE .NET products.
3. DOT-TECH PERSPECTIVES
(contributed by Christa Anderson, [email protected])
In the previous four issues of .NET UPDATE, I've examined changes to the Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) 3.0 specification. In this issue, I explain how the UDDI specification improves the discovery model—that is, how users and applications can find the files they need in a UDDI registry. These changes include query nesting, new ways of tailoring the results of a search, extended support for wildcards, and a method of breaking large numbers of results into manageable pieces.
Three of the "find" APIs that users and applications employ to search UDDI registries—find_binding, find_business, and find_service —support nested queries. In a nested query, one or more of the arguments that a user or application supplies to these APIs can be another query; the query results are filtered according to both queries instead of only the topmost one. Working with one nested query, an API can find information that otherwise would require at least two unnested queries. Such complex querying lets users and applications focus a search more easily and reduces the number of searches required to achieve targeted results.
New Find Qualifiers
Even if a search doesn't need complex queries, find qualifiers might be necessary to focus the results of that search. A find qualifier limits the results of a search. For example, you can use a find qualifier to make a search case sensitive or to search for matches that are similar to the search criteria but not identical to it. (You must specify this behavior when setting up a query because, by default, UDDI returns only exact matches.) UDDI 3.0 supports both tModel keys with find qualifiers and short names representing find qualifiers; UDDI 3.0-compliant registries must support both methods. Not all search APIs support all find qualifiers; a table in the UDDI 3.0 specification lists search APIs, the qualifiers each API supports, and the correct syntax. New to UDDI 3.0 is a standard for wildcard syntax that uses the SQL-99 format of substituting a percent sign (%) for any number of characters and an underscore (_) for a single character.
Paging Through Results
Complex queries and find qualifiers can focus a search of a UDDI registry, but the result set might still be too large to take in at one gulp. Therefore, just as Google placed the 612 results of my query "UDDI, discovery, limit results to microsoft.com" onto multiple pages at 10 results per page, a UDDI query can use the listdescription element to organize the results of a search into pages. The optional listdescription element has three values: includecount (the total number of matches for a particular query), actualcount (the number of all available matches at the time the query was made), and listhead (the index position of the first element of the returned result set within all available matches after any sorting has been applied). If a result set is too large to be returned within one group, it will contain the listdescription element with a listhead value that indicates the first match in that result set. For example, if the result set displays matches 10 through 20, then the listhead value for the first match displayed will be 10. The listhead value is not permanently associated with any particular match—it's only a placeholder that tells listdescription where to start displaying results if a display begins with a particular element.
For more details, and to examine the complete UDDI 3.0 specification, go to http://uddi.org/pubs/uddi_v3.htm
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Windows .NET Server (Win.NET Server) 2003 is scheduled to be available to customers in early 2003. Win.NET Server offers new and enhanced components such as Active Directory (AD), Windows Media Services (WMS), and communications and networking technologies. Windows & .NET Magazine News Editor Paul Thurrott takes you into the new Windows release in "Windows .NET Server: A First Look," which appears in the October 2002 issue of Windows & .NET Magazine and is available online at the following URL.
6. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Carolyn Mader, [email protected])
Addison-Wesley has joined with Microsoft to develop "The Microsoft .NET Development Series." The first three titles in the series are now available. "Essential .NET, Volume 1: The Common Language Runtime" by Don Box examines the .NET strategy and explains Common Language Runtime (CLR), the foundation of the .NET Framework. "Pragmatic ADO.NET: Data Access for the Internet World" by Shawn Wildermuth offers practical solutions for effectively using ADO.NET. "Programming in the .NET Environment" by Damien Watkins, Mark Hammond, and Brad Abrams shows programmers how to develop software that takes advantage of the capabilities of the .NET Framework and integrates seamlessly with it. For pricing, contact Addison-Wesley at 617-848-6000.
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