by Ben Worthen

Sun and Microsoft Exchange Barbs as They Debate Web Services Standards

Sep 01, 20022 mins
Web Development

One of the reasons everyone is so bullish on Web services is that the major technology companies, including IBM, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, are all supporting the same set of standards. Put mildly, this is a break from past tendencies. An encouraging sign came recently when executives from Microsoft and Sun shared a stage?with no lawyers present?to debate Web services in front of students in Boston University’s MBA and MS program (and one CIO reporter). Gerry Miller, CTO for Microsoft in the Great Lakes, and Joseph Williams, global chief architect for Sun One professional services, spent the first 45 minutes exchanging good-natured barbs and agreeing that Web services has a bright future.

But the second half of the evening took on a different tone as the two sides took turns arguing the virtues of Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition (J2EE) versus .Net. Each challenged the other side’s commitment to open standards; Williams suggested that Microsoft was pulling “the old bait and switch,” and that eventually .Net-based Web services will start to work better with Microsoft technologies. Williams pointed out that Sun was notified that the Microsoft-led Web Services Interoperability Organization existed only two days before it launched last February. Miller countered that Sun has formed an anti-Microsoft group called the Liberty Alliance.

Even the jokes were revealing. “Remember, they are a convicted monopolist,” said Williams, warning against committing to Microsoft technology. “They weren’t criminal charges,” answered Miller: “We’re just a monopolist.”

Hmm. Does this give us hope?