Microsoft Abruptly Quits Web Services Standards Body

Two Microsoft executives who joined the inaugural session of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) panel on Web services just 2 weeks ago have already quit the standards body, raising questions about the software giant's desire to create interoperable technologies. Allen Brown and Greg Meredith joined the group, attended the first meeting on March 13, then abruptly resigned. W3C spokespeople expressed confusion and disappointment about the decision.

"I am totally mystified as to why Microsoft has decided to withdraw from the group," Steve Ross-Talbot, cochairman of the working group, told "InfoWorld" last week. "When \[the Microsoft representatives\] attended during the face-to-face last week, they both made outstanding contributions to the group in a very short space of time. They presented a position ... that was totally in keeping with the stated focus of this group as per the charter. I am at a loss to understand why Microsoft should withdraw after such a positive and valuable contribution."

A Microsoft spokesperson said the company sent representatives to the meeting solely to determine the scope of the group's work. When they determined that the group's technology for Web services intercommunications wasn't compatible with Microsoft's proposed technology, they "discontinued participation." Microsoft wants the W3C to ratify a scheme called Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS), which IBM and BEA Systems jointly support. However, Sun Microsystems has already proposed a separate standard called Web Service Choreography Interface (WSCI). The W3C has stated that whatever implementation is adopted should be royalty-free; Microsoft hasn't committed to that stipulation, although BEA, IBM, and Sun have.

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