While it's still premature to be trying to map how Microsoft and Yahoo assets will align if and when Microsoft ends up taking over Yahoo, the Web-services development arena is likely to be one area where the two vendors' offerings look increasingly unlikely to mesh.
At the Web 2.0 Expo this week, Microsoft unveiled Live Mesh, its Software+Services platform for making its software and services more collaborative and synchronized. At the same show, on April 24, Microsoft takeover target Yahoo elaborated on its vision for its own Web-centric collaboration platform.
"We're rewiring yahoo from inside out to create a development platform at Yahoo that will literally open all (our) assets to developers in a way we have never done before," said Yahoo Chief Technology Ari Balogh.
Balogh outlined Yahoo's platform strategy, known as Y! OS (open strategy) during a morning keynote at the conference in San Francisco.
Yahoo announced the April 24 kick-off of its beta of Search Monkey, an environment designed to allow developers to create customized mashups around Yahoo's search engine. The resulting mash-ups can be hosted on Yahoo's frong page, or inside of any of the other Yahoo's assets, Balogh said.
Search Monkey is just step one of Yahoo's strategy to make all of its services more open, Balogh said. Yahoo will be making available to developers the application programming interfaces for My Yahoo, Yahoo Mail, its contextual and standard views and its mobile platform, he said. Yahoo will host applications for developers if they want, Balogh said (without offering further specifics on this "platform-as-a-service" promise).
"We are going to unify all profiles throughout Yahoo," Balogh told Web 2.0 keynote attendees. "There will be one place for developerss and one place for users."
Yahoo is going to create a single social Web-service API which will provide a common interface across its invitation, presence, social-messaging and other services.
"We will be opening our APIs in a consistent way" and will provide "a consistent view, development environment and deployment environment," Balogh said.
Microsoft has been building out is Windows Live Developer environment for the past year-plus, licensing its various Live APIs (Contacts, Messenger, Spaces, etc.) to third-party developers. This week, Microsoft commenced a technology preview (pre-beta) of its Live Mesh service, which it has begn opening to 10,000 testers. While the first test versions of Live Mesh will work on Windows PCs only, Microsoft officials have said they plan to make the Live Mesh software and service pieces available on Macs within a few months, and on various Windows Mobile and non-Microsoft-centric phones, gaming consoles and other devices at some time in the future.
At its heart, Live Mesh is a platform, not just a service. (And it sounds like there's going to be some connection between the Windows Live Developer platform and Live Mesh -- but something Microsoft won't discuss for a few more months.) And Y! OS Yahoo's next-gen services platform, is trying to solve a number of the same collaboration/sharing problems as Live Mesh -- but in a completely different way. Meshing these two platforms could be a real mess, I'd think.