.NET UPDATE, May 15, 2003

Subject Line: .NET UPDATE, May 15, 2003


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May 15, 2003--In this issue:

1. COMMENTARY - .NET at Play


3. ANNOUNCEMENTS - Get the eBook That Will Help You Get Certified! - Cast Your Vote in Our Annual Readers' Choice Awards!


5. CONTACT US - See this section for a list of ways to contact us.




(contributed by Paul Thurrott, news editor, [email protected])

* .NET AT PLAY Microsoft held the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2003, one of its most forward-looking trade shows ever, last week in hot and humid New Orleans. WinHEC 2003 was packed with information: Microsoft dished the dirt on Longhorn (the next Windows OS version, due in 2005) and Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB), the security and privacy technology formerly known as Palladium.

WinHEC is a hardware-oriented show, so many of the sessions focused on such technologies as graphics, device drivers, and other seemingly boring topics. But given the long time to market for hardware, WinHEC also highlights future-of-computing topics. Thus, you would expect .NET to have been one of the main subjects.

That wasn't the case, however. Sure, Microsoft representatives presented a few .NET-related items in the Windows Server 2003 talks, and of course the .NET moniker appears in the name of Windows CE .NET 4.2, the latest version of Microsoft's OS for embedded and portable devices. And although Microsoft will use .NET managed code to write the application-level APIs for Longhorn, the company won't discuss those details until this fall, I was told. But I didn't have to look too far to find some interesting developments in the .NET space. And for a change, most of the announcements were entertainment-related.

Messenger Updates Coming This Summer First, Microsoft is preparing some interesting updates to its MSN Messenger and Windows Messenger Instant Messaging (IM) products. Going forward, Windows Messenger will be a corporate-only IM application that will offer support for three services: Exchange IM, the Internet-based Passport, and Real-Time Communications (RTC) Server-based Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) IM, a new Windows Server 2003 add-on that will debut this summer and will give enterprises secure and log-based IM capabilities. Because Windows Messenger is, technically, "part" of Windows, in that Microsoft delivers this product as middleware in the wider Windows product, Microsoft is somewhat limited in what features it can offer in the product in the wake of the antitrust settlement. So Microsoft will offer many of the more exciting IM improvements in MSN Messenger, which isn't integrated with Windows.

On the consumer end, Microsoft will release MSN Messenger 6.0 in mid-July, and this release will include a new Launch-Site feature that will include new integrated games that let you instant message while you play games online, Web cam chat capabilities, audio chat capabilities, an MSN 8.5-like user interface, and more than 75 new graphical emoticons. MSN Messenger 6.0 will also include various personalization features and logging capabilities (which debuted first in the MSN Messenger 3.5 release for Mac OS X).

Xbox and .NET Microsoft's successful Xbox Live online game service lets Xbox users play games online with human opponents from all over the world, and 500,000 subscribers have already signed on. This fall, the company will unleash a new version of the service. As before, Microsoft will charge a $50 annual fee for the service, which will include several interesting features, including Live Now (which you can use with the Xbox Live headset for chatting with other players online), Live Web (for checking player rankings and seeing who's online), and Live Alerts (which lets Xbox Live subscribers send game invitations to players with Internet-capable cell phones, PDAs, and any other device that's compatible with MSN Alerts technology). The release of Live Alerts marks the first time Microsoft has integrated its Xbox game console with a PC-based .NET Web service.

MSN Alerts is a free service that sends alerts about traffic reports, stock quotes, and other information to your email address, to your MSN Messenger or Windows Messenger account, or to your or PDA. On the PC, MSN Alerts integrate with MSN or Windows Messenger. But that's old hat. You can also use MSN Alerts with various non-PC devices, including cell phones and various Pocket PCs.

Subscription Radio Service Finally, earlier this week, Microsoft launched a new MSN Radio Plus subscription service, which joins a suddenly burgeoning list of other paid services the company offers through MSN, including Hotmail Extra Storage; MSN 8 dial-up, broadband, and Bring Your Own Service (BYOS); The Zone; and others. MSN Radio Plus costs $30 a year and gives subscribers streaming online radio stations minus the annoying Web advertisements that accompany free versions. Microsoft says that MSN Radio Plus is the first of many subscription-oriented entertainment offerings the company will offer in the coming months. The new service competes with a similar, but more expensive, offering from RealNetworks, which offers a RealOne RadioPass subscription for $6 a month.

These announcements add up to some healthy and exciting advances that rely on .NET technology. The question, of course, is whether Microsoft can get people to pay for the services that aren't free, such as Xbox Live and MSN Radio Plus.



(contributed by Christa Anderson, [email protected])

* ROLES IN SOAP 1.2 The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has released a proposed recommendation for the next version of Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) 1.2. Although most of the proposed changes probably won't affect non-developers, the use of roles and the introduction of new roles in this version of the protocol can help you understand how the message-passing works.

SOAP is the protocol that .NET applications use to pass XML messages. The specification describes how the protocol should work. The protocol uses remote procedure calls (RPCs) over HTTP (SOAP is a high-level protocol, not a transport protocol like TCP/IP), but it can also cooperate with a couple of other protocols.

Each time a SOAP node processes a message--either passing it on to another node or keeping it, as the final destination--that SOAP node adopts a particular role to let it process the message accordingly. Roles aren't new to the most recent version of SOAP, but SOAP 1.2 defines two new roles, introduces a new sub-element used to explicitly define the roles, and provides a more detailed processing model for how roles affect message processing.

SOAP 1.2 has three roles--"none," "next," and "ultimate receiver"--which are used in SOAP message headers or the message body. The values aren't recorded as "none" and so forth but as Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) pointing to the appropriate definition on the W3 Web site.

If a message header's role has the "none" attribute, then no SOAP node should process the contents. This rule doesn't preclude a node examining the content of a message if another message header points to the content, but it does mean that the node should not alter the data.

If a node receives a message containing a header with the "next" value as its role, then that node must be able to process the message if necessary. Therefore, intermediaries along the path from the message's originator to its final destination always play the "next" role.

The "ultimate receiver" role isn't defined in the message header but in the body of the message where the payload resides. This role is implied rather than explicit. The role of the node can be explicitly stated in the body of the message, but it's not necessary--if no role is listed, then the "ultimate receiver" role is the default. Also, you can't leave a role undefined but with an empty value--that is, instead of "next" the role is "". In that case, the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) defining the role is the base URI for that SOAP message. SOAP 1.2 doesn't define the mechanics of deriving the base URI, but HTTP, the protocol on which SOAP depends, does.

A SOAP node can act in multiple roles. In fact, in the case of the ultimate receiver, it always will, because the node must both be able to process the headers and receive the body of the message. The SOAP node that originally sent the message has no defined role.

Roles let a SOAP message know what it's supposed to do with a message and provide pointers to explicit instructions for how to process it. Any SOAP node that receives a message for processing--either to give to another node or to process itself--will use roles defined in the header or defined implicitly or explicitly in the body of the message.



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(contributed by Carolyn Mader, [email protected])

* USE .NET CONTROLS IN ASP .NET APPLICATIONS Platte Canyon released Web Player, a .NET control for developers to embed either a Windows Media Player, Flash Player, RealPlayer, or plain text into ASP.NET applications. The Web Player enables a user to play sound, video, and animated files in ASP.NET applications. The developer can set the URL to the desired media or let the user turn off the media and display closed-captions. Web Player costs $145. Contact Platte Canyon at 888-866-5251 or [email protected] http://www.plattecanyon.com



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