Microsoft and the 'Gordian Knot' of XML
03:17, 22 May 2000 UTC | Simon St.Laurent

In remarks on the Java Lobby site, Roger Voss, recently of Microsoft, described his feelings that "XML/distributed Internet computing paradigm was just a non-starter to me." At the same time, a thread on comp.text.xml brought some strong skepticism to Microsoft's upcoming Next Generation Windows Systems (NGWS), thin clients built on XML.

While in some respects the post appears to be an effort to draw attention to his own plans for replacing this XML-based infrastructure, it provides some descriptions of work inside Microsoft which, while in some ways unsurprising, provides an insider's viewpoint on the approach Microsoft is taking with regard to XML:

"At Microsoft I worked on stuff where the emphasis from on high was adopting XML for pretty much everything related to data flow between nodes, and especially a heavy emphasis on multi-tier distributed computing architecture. This means apps (proxy objects) downloading and executing client-side and piping data back to a middle-tier where business logic (the real objects) execute server side in the context of some distributed transaction monitor."

Although he acknowledges that "Yes, I see some good roles for XML for data conveyance," he doesn't seem to have much excitement for "XML as a replacement of HTML over HTTP though." This stands in fairly clear contrast to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's recent remarks that:

"And the key to this change we see in the Internet, and the key, frankly, to a lot of other opportunities that I think are essential to all in terms of taking advantage of the Internet, will be what we might well call the XML generation, what we think of and we need to make all this clear as the NGWS generation, Microsoft's next generation platform efforts, or what you could well think of as the generation of the next Internet user experience."

Meanwhile, on comp.text.xml, an invitation to explore NGWS brought some complaints from Matt Sergeant (and others) about the whole enterprise:

"This is not a wheel that needs reinventing or replacing with something slower. I can't wait to see a thin client that communicates bitmap graphics over SOAP... :-)"

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