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IBM, Microsoft Shun W3C

The revelation that IBM and Microsoft would not be participating in the latest W3C working group on Web Services Choreography should not surprise anyone. Some say the two Web services leaders are leaning away from WS-Choreography because published W3C specifications can't include patented technology or require royalties for usage--meaning there's no obvious way for them to make money this way.

Beyond the core Web services specifications (SOAP, WSDL, UDDI, WS-Security), you can expect vendors to start hijacking standards. WS-Choreography competes with the IBM-Microsoft-BEA Systems BPEL4WS (Business Process Evolution Language for Web Services). Rather than participate in the standards group and hijack the specification from within, the giants are simply planning to push their own specification to a standards body. At least they're pushing the same specification and not three separate implementations.

This fragmentation may not appear significant, as it does not affect the core standards. But it is indicative of the software industry's inability to agree on anything--especially when it involves standards.

As for the vendors, an IBM spokesperson says the company never joined the working group because it was working separately on BPEL4WS, which it plans to submit to the W3C, OASIS or another standards group "shortly." Microsoft sent two researchers to the first W3C working group meeting, but "The group did not align well with Microsoft's work," a representative says.

Rather than rely on the strength of their implementation of those standards and the value added by their product features and service offerings, IBM and Microsoft prefer to strong-arm their customers and generate a revenue stream by forcing them to adopt vendor-controlled standards. (For more on Web services, see this issue's cover package).

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