In other news, IBM and MS played dueling Malls yesterday, announcing Wold
Avenue and a buyout of eShop respectively. Both intend to offer turnkey
service, including credit cards, clearing, and so on.
June 10, 1996 9:00 AM ET
Microsoft to reel out its vision of the corporate intranet
By _Norvin Leach and_ _Michael Moeller_
CHICAGO--Microsoft Corp. this week will unfurl its strategy for building and
deploying business applications on Web servers, as it tries to sell large
customers on its vision of the corporate intranet.
Central to the strategy, which the company will discuss at its Intranet Day
conference Thursday in San Jose, Calif., is a framework for building and
scripting server-based ActiveX components and deploying them on the World Wide
Web and through the enterprise.
The ActiveX Server Framework dynamically extends the Web server by drawing
together system services, such as state management and transaction management,
and making them available to components.
"What a Web server becomes is a framework for services," Paul Maritz, senior
vice president of Microsoft's platforms group, said during an interview at
Comdex here last week.
One of the problems with current Web technology is that hooking back-end
services, such as database searching, to a Web page involves a hodgepodge of
"We've got SQL statements for our database, C++ applications, [Common Gateway
Interface] code to extract the data," said Patrick Connolly, president of
Ethos Inc., a Mill Valley, Calif., database and Web development shop. "It's
turned from a homespun Web environment into a real application development
The ActiveX Server Framework is aimed at ending this confusion. Users can
create self-contained business objects, or ActiveX components, in C or other
languages, then manipulate them with a script. The only code mixing occurs
when developers add the scripting code to HTML.
The scripting engine, code-named Denali, supports Visual Basic Script but can
The ActiveX Server Framework also provides services such as state management
and user tracking, which let the server keep track of where a user has been on
the network. Currently, only a browser can keep a record of a user's state,
and navigation through a database is impossible, since a database does not
understand the HTTP commands "forward" and "back."
State management will facilitate applications such as electronic commerce,
since it will let a server keep track of items that a user has bought.
Other system services available in the framework are grouped under the code
name Viper. These will let users manage transactions between controls and
databases as well as balance loads across a network.
Microsoft is not the only company trying to extend its Web server through
components. Next month, Netscape Communications Corp. will release the first
in a line of Internet servers that support server-side Java applets and
Also, in the fourth quarter, JavaSoft, a division of Sun Microsystems Inc.,
will release a Java-based server framework, called Jeeves, that will let
companies not only integrate Java applets on the server but also write an
entire Internet server in Java.
At Comdex last week, Maritz unveiled related technology when he announced the
Normandy set of Internet services and the Redmond, Wash., company's plans for
supporting 64-bit data types on Windows NT around the Cairo time frame.