Microsoft's Web platform and why Windows devices remain key

Microsoft's Web platform and why Windows devices remain key

Summary: I've got to hand it to Microsoft, they're not asleep at the wheel in this Web 2.0 era. Today CNET reported that Microsoft plans to open access to MSN (Microsoft Network) and some of its other website properties. They will let developers build new applications on top of those sites using APIs and associated tools. Microsoft is apparently calling this its "Web platform" strategy - more details will be revealed at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles next week.

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TOPICS: Browser
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I've got to hand it to Microsoft, they're not asleep at the wheel in this Web 2.0 era. Today CNET reported that Microsoft plans to open access to MSN (Microsoft Network) and some of its other website properties. They will let developers build new applications on top of those sites using APIs and associated tools. Microsoft is apparently calling this its "Web platform" strategy - more details will be revealed at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles next week.

This follows on from Microsoft's adoption of RSS in June this year, when they announced they will integrate RSS into Windows Vista and release a set of RSS extensions. That was the strongest signal yet from any of The Big 3 Internet companies (Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!) that they are taking RSS seriously. This announcement of a Web platform strategy is not quite as innovative, because Google and Yahoo are already well established on the Web platform. Microsoft is playing a bit of catch-up, but it does show they're quick to change with the times nowadays.

At first glance it seems like a worthy thing for Microsoft to do - let people develop new services on top of its web properties. This is a key tenet of Web 2.0 - using the Web as a platform for development (aka the Internet OS). For example Google Maps has led to interesting new apps such as Housing Maps - a mash-up between Google Maps and craigslist

One scenario is that this is a battle for developer mindshare, a lot of which is moving over to the Web. So Microsoft has decided it needs to get some of that mindshare back from its rival Google. 

But the Web platform is also part of a larger strategy by Microsoft to ensure its Windows OS doesn't slide into irrelevance for consumers. One of the key concerns for Microsoft in the coming years will be how its customers access the Web. And in this respect, the Windows OS is still the main piece of the jigsaw in Microsoft's plans for Web 2.0. 

Microsoft hopes a large proportion of the population will use the Web via millions of its Internet-connected 'devices' - such as mobile phones, media centers in the home (e.g. controlled from your television set), games machines, even the good old traditional PC. These devices will run on, you guessed it, the Windows OS and they will be Microsoft's interface into Web 2.0. What's more, they will by default lead straight to MSN and other 'homepages' - driving traffic to its website properties.

Windows-powered devices for the home and office will be how Microsoft will cement its place on the Web platform. Sure they'll open up their websites with APIs and other programming toolsets. A lot of Web development and mash-ups will occur. But I suspect the Web 2.0 mindshare that Microsoft is most interested in is the consumer one - how people get to the Web platform.

Microsoft's Web platform is though at least a sign that they've moved on from trying to make Windows the dominant platform for developers to build on. Although it'll be important to keep a strong developer presence in Windows, Microsoft recognizes now that the Web is really where the developer action is and so they have to join the party.

I don't think the Web platform is Microsoft's primary strategy for its future survival, by any means. But it's an important acknowledgement that the Web is the place to be for both developers and consumers. As for how its customers access the Web, well that's at the heart of Microsoft's strategy for Web 2.0. If they can't own the platform, they want to own as many of the paths onto the platform as possible.

Topic: Browser

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  • Right

    "I've got to hand it to Microsoft, they're not asleep at the wheel
    in this Web 2.0 era. Today CNET reported that Microsoft plans to
    open access to MSN (Microsoft Network) and some of its other
    website properties."

    Wow more plans, certainly aren't asleep with you can announce
    plans when others have actual products in the market.

    The new MS motto : "Where would you like to talk about going
    today" ;-)
    Richard Flude
    • The new MS motto : "Where would you like to talk about going

      And the answer is??? The same place they did with IE aganist Netscape, to 90% market share. Although it will be a lot harder now with all those anti-trust attorneys whatching and salavating for chance to jump in to court because no matter what the consumer gets, they get millions!
      bka1959
      • What are you waiting for ?!

        Put your money where your mouth is: buy MS shares!
        the_fiddler_on_the_roof
        • Why?

          First they are over priced and second Microsoft is king of the mountain. When one is king of the mountain there is no place to go but down.

          When the drop occurs then buy Microsoft stock. Also I'd avoid stock like Google right now too. Cisco stock however might be a very good investment.
          voska
  • This is dangerous!

    The second that Microslut is hacked, everyone running this crap would get infected!
    Reverend MacFellow
  • Of No Concern

    Microsoft Business Solutions was the forerunner to Dynamics, and its launch time was the day MS decided it was time to end the relationship with ISV's and external developers writing to the Windows platform. Windows developers cannot be of concern to MS. In turn, rather than become restricted to creating Office solutions or MSN web development, developers are going to move to other platforms where they can retain creativity.
    rmac_z
  • The Web is an Open Platform...and Free

    ...and thats what neither Linux nor Microsoft will ever own or control, thank goodness!

    As long as the Web is free to the world and inclusive, it will spawn all kinds of innovation. Microsoft could learn from that concept by building better browsers based on Web Standards (Internet Explorer), tools based on Web Standarsd and XHTML and CSS (Visual Studio), and frameworks based on correct correct w3c markup practices and free non-prorietary code and nasty Javascript dependencies (ASP.NET).

    They still have not learned that lesson, so I predict will continue to drift away from the web community and adoption by the world in that arena as the years go by. They need to stop "pigeon-holing" developers such as myself on such horrible web practices and circus tricks that route us back to THEIR way of using the web and start looking at what the world is doing with the web and get on board!
    wildranger
    • Don't see what you mean

      From what I hear the next version of VS, coming out in November, will be compliant with XHTML, and will be more compatible (not sure how much more) with CSS. They are also adding IntelliSense and debugging capability to client-side Javascript. VS is moving closer to the standards, in terms of the client, not away from them.
      Mark Miller
      • Think of developing for iTMS

        This is like Apple opening up a developer site for iTunes Music Store applications. Developers could go in and develop stuff that will work only with Apple's platform and iTMS.

        How many would take them up? If you want to develop for the web, it's best not to use any Microsoft tools as you will likely have more problems that if you use other, more open tools.

        By all means test with IE and ensure Windows users can access your site, but you will have a much harder time if you develop in VS for IE and then try to test in other browsers/platforms.

        It will be interesting to see just how standards compliant the new VS and Windows Vista are.
        Fred Fredrickson