Microsoft brings keyword search to UDDI

Microsoft and RealNames teamed on a keyword-based searching service Thursday for the UDDI registry, adding one of the first new features to a directory that has been billed as a "Yellow Pages" for the Internet.

The UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration) registry aims to make it easier for businesses to provide information about their products and services on the Web as well as locate partners and customers. A number of registries that use differing protocols already exist on the Web, but Microsoft Corp., IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. have joined the UDDI effort as a way to make business-to-business commerce on the Web work more smoothly. The vendors claim that thousands of businesses have signed up to use UDDI.

Microsoft maintains one of the registry sites where companies can enter information about their business. The software maker is teaming with RealNames to make UDDI-related keywords accessible through the address bar in the Internet Explorer browser, said Christopher Kurt, group program manager for UDDI and Web Services at Microsoft.

RealNames removes the need to type in sometimes hard-to-remember Web addresses by allowing companies to register simple keywords -- such as the name of a company or a product. When a user types in one of those keywords, they are taken to the Web sites of the company that registered the word, Kurt said. The system competes with a similar keyword service operated by America Online Inc.

In the context of UDDI, users will be able to type "UDDI" followed by a company name or portion of a company name into the address bar of Internet Explorer -- for example, "UDDI flowers." The results would show a list of the businesses registered in UDDI that have flowers in their name. The service could be used by anyone from a home user shopping for a cricket bat or a large manufacturer in need of raw materials, officials said.

The keyword search will also take into account a user's location, returning searches based on the language spoken in the user's locale.

When businesses sign up to use the RealNames service, they will be pointed to Microsoft's UDDI registry site in an attempt to encourage growth of the registry. Eventually, users will be able to submit their information to the UDDI registry directly from the RealNames site, said Nico Popp, chief technology officer of RealNames.

The UDDI system, which was launched last month, contains three types of information, divided into what the vendors refer to as White, Yellow and Green pages.

The White Pages contain business names, descriptions of the type of business, and other information regarding what kind of services a vendor uses and also what protocols they support. The Yellow Pages adopt current government codes for tagging types of business operations as well as international and technology-based naming protocols. In addition, it arranges companies by geographical location. The Green Pages provide more specific information on what types of documents a company can receive, the entry points for transactions, and the technologies they currently interact with and support.

Some participants in the project hope to build more specific directories on top of UDDI as the project moves along. They hope to have UDDI as an open, common starting point with consistent identifiers for companies' business practices. With that base, vendors can offer other services on top of the directory which could allow them to generate additional revenue.

Microsoft, IBM, and HP will maintain the servers which collect the registry information for about the next year, at which time the project will be turned over to an as-yet unnamed standards body. Updates to the registry are scheduled to appear throughout 2001, with more complex features being added for varying types of business-to-business transactions.

Companies can register their information in the UDDI registry at no charge.

More information about UDDI is available at http://www.uddi.org.

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