Microsoft lights XML birthday candles

‘People put information into documents not databases,’ he declared, before citing an example of how things can be more efficient: US State Patrol officers recording traffic offences onto a Tablet PC before using InfoPath to upload the data directly, using a Web service, to a legacy IBM mainframe.

Would Microsoft behave honourably in the future towards XML standards? Of course, he said, claiming that there would be no business advantage to breaking the operation of so many business processes. He likened it to Unicode – what corporation would gain by introducing a non-standard implementation. Unlike with HTML – which became notoriously ‘polluted’ during the browser wars of the late nineties – there is no direct user benefit to be achieved by breaking a standard that largely works in the background. It would simply be treated as a bug in our applications, he said.

It was for this reason, he maintained, that Microsoft was not backing the XML Binary initiative. That such a step away from transparent text introduces all the old uncertainties of swapping potentially executable code. Instead he pointed to the recent work on the XOP and MTOM for speeding the performance of very large-scale XML data transfers – SOAP speeds binary data across the Net.

When asked if there was any frustration with the frozen state of Internet Explorer in the face of so many new XML-related standards and specification, Paoli thought this was not an issue, claiming the major standards such as XML and XSLT were relatively stable and unchanged. He did, however, say that Microsoft was ‘making a lot of investment’ in updating IE but that he could not yet reveal any details. Presumably this refers to the forthcoming Avalon interface that will now precede the release of Longhorn, the next major release of Windows – Microsoft widens the release of the new ‘Avalon’ UI.

According to Microsoft, this will ‘unify how Windows creates, displays, and manipulates documents, media, and (the) user interface’. To achieve that goal, Microsoft is basing the project on a version of XML – XAML – that will enable developers to create and build on new user interfaces.

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