What is Microsoft's Web platform (and what's Chris Wilson's part in it)?

What is Microsoft's Web platform (and what's Chris Wilson's part in it)?

Summary: Those who keep close tabs on what Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) team is doing no doubt heard that IE veteran and Platform Architect Chris Wilson left IE back in May. He's still with Microsoft but has a broader though equally challenging role: Helping the company flesh out its "open Web platform."

SHARE:
TOPICS: Browser, CXO, Microsoft
3

Those who keep close tabs on what Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) team is doing no doubt heard that IE veteran and Platform Architect Chris Wilson left IE back in May.  He's still with Microsoft but has a broader though equally challenging role: Helping the company flesh out its "open Web platform."

Wilson, who first joined the IE team back in 1995, has spent a lot of his time on the hot seat. Wilson has represented Microsoft -- a company many have come to see as throwing a monkey-wrench into Web standards, rather than championing them -- as part of various standards groups. Wilson has been part of groups forging standards for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), HTML, the Document Object Model and XSL through various W3C working groups, and currently remains co-chair of the HTML working group.)

Wilson's new job is Principal Program Manager of the Open Web Platform in Microsoft's Developer Division. In that role, Wilson reports to John Montgomery, who is group program manager of the year-old browser programmability and tools unit. The new post marks the first time that Wilson hasn't been part of the Windows client division (IE is part of the Windows unit) since he joined Microsoft.

In his new role, Wilson is part of the team building the JavaScript runtime and tools for IE, he said. He still will be working closely with the IE team as it moves toward developing IE 9 and its successors. But he'll be broadening his focus, too.

"There's been a recognition (at Microsoft) that the Web platform is a programming platform and runtime APIs (application programming interfaces) are super-important," he said.

So, what, exactly, is "the open Web platform" in Microsoft's view? I've only seen it described fairly vaguely as something encompassing core Web products for developers, designers and end users.

The open Web platform is not a single, definable entity, Wilson said. "But to me, it's CSS, HTML 5, JavaScript and other APIs developed by the W3C," he said.

At the Mix '09 conference, Microsoft officials rolled out a new test version of the company's Web platform installer (version 2.0), as well as a gallery of third-party Web-development tools from both open-source and closed-source vendors. Is this part of Microsoft's open Web platform, as well, I asked Wilson. The Installer provides a single download for everything from Silverlight Tools for Visual Studio, to IIS 7.0, to PHP (Community Version 5.2.9-1). Microsoft may make a follow-up announcement about the platform/installer at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) next week in New Orleans.

"We have disparate pieces that aren't tied together at Microsoft," Wilson acknowledged. "We need more than debuggers. We need to explain 'how do I sit down with a blank slate and write Web apps'?"

In other words, it's not just the server-side components upon which Microsoft largely focused at Mix '09, but also tools like Expression Web -- "whch isn't seen right now this way, but is actually an open Web tool," according to Wilson.

What do you think Microsoft should do to help developers who want to write Web apps? What kinds of tools, products and standards (other than the obvious, like HTML 5) do you want to see the company offer? and support?

Topics: Browser, CXO, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

3 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Simple...

    The answer to your question is simple.

    In terms of standards, Microsoft needs to step up its game in supporting them. If other browsers support standards in draft stage, IE should as well. It should go above and beyond whenever possible.

    For web developers, Microsoft needs to keep working hard on VS2010 and drop the current codebase of Expression Web. It is a clear carryover from FrontPage and is trash compared to the competitors' offerings.

    They know how to write software really well (Blend 3, Visual Studio anyone?) but they don't, or can't, because of the clear separation between the various groups.
    jsedlak
  • Competing against the web

    What I think MS should do is directly compete against the web using WPF and the aid of Terminal Server type virtualization - particularly for higher end apps. (E.g. I think developers should be able to create WPF apps and use wizards to optionally host them on servers accessible via the web.) MS could directly compete against HTML documents by using Word and Office open document formats hosted in Office derivative applications, which could be used locally or in turn hosted online.

    The above would of course allow MS to provide a dramatically better platform alternative to the web, having all of the web's key advantages, but providing significantly more benefits. Developers therefore would have a choice of developing on top of Windows resulting in them creating apps: much more quickly; with greater sophistication; with much better user experiences; while having about the same reach as regular web apps. Developers could also provide apps that allow users to publish Office documents to the web as an alternative to HTML, resulting in much more sophisticated documents that have about as much reach as HTML documents.

    It is all nice and well for MS to play nice with the web community. But I think it is best for MS to let these guys be, and align Windows as a direct competitor to the browser. In such a scenario, consumers and MS win on account of increased competition, and MS' core technologies regaining relevance. (For what it's worth, I think the day when MS announces it is phasing out ADO.net, AJAX, Silverlight, and other web technologies in lieu of developer demand for hosted WPF apps development, will be a great day for MS.)
    P. Douglas
  • RE: What is Microsoft's Web platform (and what's Chris Wilson's part in it)?

    At length surfed to your web internet page blog page web dealing with blogsearch get, that you will be an agreeable bloger! [url=http://www.nfl--eshop.com/]new york giants jerseys[/url],[url=http://www.nfl--eshop.com/joe-montana-jersey-authentic-joe-montana-jersey-kansas-city-chiefs]authentic joe montana jersey[/url],[url=http://www.nfl--eshop.com/kids-bj-raji-jersey-bj-raji-jersey-green-bay]authentic b.j. raji jersey[/url],[url=http://www.nfl--eshop.com/ben-roethlisberger-jersey-women-ben-roethlisberger-jersey]authentic ben roethlisberger jersey[/url], We that way useful self-help help guide to end those ordeal as you working with occupation university or college, and it would be right matter with your publishing. Say thanks a lot, outstanding deal with.
    dfwekrdfe2301-24353662930198386032853008779225