Linux isn't the only competitive threat to Microsoft. Web services/SOA-based technologies are prompting companies to revisit the notion of thin-client computing, as a way to cut deployment costs, improve security, and deliver value. You may remember a few years back we had the "fat client" vs. "thin client" war, in which IBM, Oracle and Sun were promoting thin-client workstations as a better TCO proposition over fat-client Windows desktop PCs. Microsoft prevailed, thanks to better Windows administrative tools and plunging hardware prices.
Web services shakes up this scenario again, since a Web services client can essentially be any type or size of device, drawing data and applications from various points across the network. Windows may be relegated to becoming just another client type on the network, versus the client de jure role it has enjoyed over the past decade.
The pressure is once again on Microsoft to prove that Windows clients are a better value proposition in the networked SOA world than thin clients. One of Microsoft's answers has been Indigo, a communications system that integrates with .NET and employs Web services protocols to enable Windows applications to communicate with any other type of application, such as Java. Indigo is scheduled to be released as part of Longhorn, Microsoft's next-generation operating system. Indigo will include Web services protocols, such as WS-Security andWS-ReliableMessaging.
CNET's Martin LaMonica reports that the Community Technology Preview of Indigo, posted on Wednesday, is available to subscribers of the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN), the company's service for programmers, and that the toolkit will be available to anyone via a free download in a few weeks.