Microsoft launches Web-friendly Next Generation Windows

Microsoft will today unveil Next Generation Windows (NGWS), a strategy that combines the operating system with Web-based information and application services.

Microsoft is promoting NGWS as a software infrastructure that will allow users to take any software and make it a manageable, deployable, programmable service on the Web.

An aspect of the strategy, which the company describes as its most important announcement in five years, is a new concept for user interfaces that Microsoft describes as the Internet User Experience (IUE). According to Microsoft IUE will provide users with a way to store and share the information they need from any computing device.

Ovum analyst Gary Barnett said the move shows Microsoft is attempting to push Web-based services out to small and medium sized enterprises through an application service provider (ASP) software distribution model. "Microsoft sees a huge opportunity to be the underpinning for Web services," he explained.

"Its ASP strategy had a tentative start," said Barnett, "But now Microsoft is ready to build a Web-based infrastructure." Given the depth of its middleware Barnett believes the Microsoft NGWS strategy will become an important part of corporate IT.

NGWS builds on Windows DNA, Microsoft's existing middleware platform for Windows 2000. It uses Microsoft technology such as Commerce Server, Biztalk Server, SQL Server and Application Center as Web application platform building blocks for new Web services.

Microsoft sees such Web services existing as independent building blocks, that are reusable and can be aggregated with other services to build a next generation Web application.

n Users will be able to rent application and operating environments remotely from Microsoft from this summer. With a number of hardware partners, Microsoft will become an ASP when it offers Exchange, SQL and Windows 2000 on a rental basis.

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