IBM, Microsoft band together to talk Web services

In a rare display of public camaraderie, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and IBM Software Chief Steve Mills further cemented the commitment of their respective companies to work together to accelerate the creation and adoption of key Web services standards and the resulting applications.

Speaking in New York on Wednesday, both executives emphasized that accelerating the adoption of Web services standards and creating exploitive applications more quickly will give corporate users a compelling reason to increase their IT budgets, thereby lifting the industry out of the financial doldrums it has been mired in for more than two years.

"What is really important here is that we can give buyers a reason to spend more on technology given the tough economy we are living in right now. We think whatever they spend on Web services to do things like connect up supply chains offers them tremendous payback," Mills said.

"What we are trying to do [through the acceleration of Web services standards] is lay the foundation. I hope that all of the hype that didn't happen in the 1990s can happen now," Gates said.

Asked if the public display of support signaled a softening in the often hard-edged competition the two companies have engaged in the last several years, both downplayed the notion.

"There isn't a fundamental shift, no. There is always going to be a delta between industry standards we agree on and what companies (such as IBM and Microsoft) do uniquely. The goal is to let our users carry out ambitious applications using standards. Think of .Net as being our implementation of Web services," Gates said.

The Web services standards that each company will focus on include WS-Security, Reliable Messaging, and WS-Transaction. Neither would commit to a precise timeframe in which these standards would get presented to standards organizations, such as OASIS or W3C, and incorporated into their respective core tools and platforms.

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