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PC World

What exactly is Windows DNA?

September 15, 1999
Web posted at: 1:37 p.m. EDT (1737 GMT)

by Alexandra Krasne graphic

(IDG) -- Get ready for "the new era of Web development," because according to Microsoft, it's coming soon.

In an announcement on Monday, the company stated that this brave new era will be characterized by applications in the Windows Distributed interNet Architecture (DNA) that support XML. Microsoft claims all of these applications will be available within the next 15 months.

Windows DNA aims to replace browsing the raw Web with a more personalized experience, says Microsoft. Its goals are not small. "Microsoft wants to empower people through great software, anytime, anyplace, on any device," says Microsoft President Steve Ballmer.
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The secret sauce: XML

Microsoft's new products are all programmed with eXtensible Markup Language (XML), which Ballmer calls a "technology secret sauce."

Built on top of Windows 2000 DNA, Microsoft's new products will offer XML-supported functions, through DNA "building blocks" on several levels.

The bottom level of the new DNA offering is Windows 2000, with an updated release candidate coming out Wednesday, according to Ballmer.

Directly on top of that will be SQL Server 7.0, which Microsoft says will let you enter URL queries and in turn receive results in XML.

On top of that will be the AppCenter Server or "Babylon" Integration Server, which will let a business perform transactions with other businesses on the Web without XML coding.

To integrate the levels of software and hardware, Microsoft's BizTalk tool will help businesses exchange information with other BizTalk-compatible groups with different platforms, operating systems, and programming languages.

At the very top of the pyramid will be the Megaservices, which are the "reusable building blocks," Ballmer says. These will help you buy products using Passport, Microsoft's authentication and wallet application, or program a site to include your favorite components.

Tapping into non-PC devices such as mobile phones, XML will also stream data to places where HTML can't go.

A Linux-killer?

Microsoft faces serious competition from IBM, Sun, and the Linux camp.

An International Data Corporation study states that use of the Linux operating environment has increased from a small percentage in 1997 to about 13 percent of the respondents in the current study.

While Microsoft's new offering has promise, it was launched reactively, rather than proactively, according to analysts.

"What Microsoft is trying to do is stop the move to Linux and get to the Web," says Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group. "If Microsoft doesn't make the Web their platform, they are no longer the dominant player."

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Year 2000 World
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