Microsoft updates SOAP toolkit

Microsoft on Wednesday announced a new version of its SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) toolkit and said that the forthcoming version of Windows will natively support SOAP.

Version 2.0 of the toolkit supports the latest iteration of SOAP, Version 1.1, and, perhaps more important, the emerging standard for describing Web services, WSDL (Web Services Description Language). Microsoft unveiled the toolkit at the Web Services World show here.

Developers using Visual Studio 6.0 tools in conjunction with the toolkit have a means to describe Web services as well as the transport mechanism for delivering services to devices that support SOAP and XML. Programmers also can add such functionality to existing COM (Component Object Model) applications or components, according to Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft.

In a surprise to no one because Microsoft is one of the key players driving the SOAP standard, Microsoft also stated that the next-generation Windows operating system, Windows XP, will natively support SOAP, thereby making it easier for developers to build Web services and for users to access them.

Microsoft is not the only one backing SOAP. Earlier this week, SilverStream Software and CapeClear Software Ltd. both announced that their J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) application servers now support the protocol.

Although SOAP has garnered quite a bit of attention, and the widespread acceptance of Web services will require industrywide support of the standard, SOAP is still under development and will continue to evolve alongside Web services, analysts said.

"The standards are still young and will need to be expanded to include things like security," said Peter Urban, an analyst at AMR Research Inc. in Boston. "But we won't have to destroy these current standards as the new pieces emerge."

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