March 16, 2001, 3:45 PM — As vice president of the platforms group at Microsoft, Jim Allchin helps decide which technologies will comprise new and updated operating systems developed by Microsoft. In that capacity, Allchin must determine when any given capability is ready for prime time on a Windows platform. In an interview with InfoWorld Editor in Chief Michael Vizard, Allchin tells how Web services will change the way businesses use applications and how the Microsoft .Net architecture provides a framework for Web services.
InfoWorld: Right now a lot of people are talking about the concept of Web services and the potential of software component architectures. What's your take on this emerging set of technologies?
Allchin: I'm super excited about the concept of being able to describe the methods that are available to turn a Web site into a service so that you can send a set of XML messages over [SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol)] and get responses back. Web sites can then be programmed through a client, regardless of the client device. I think we're sitting on top of that, and I think we're spending a great deal of time in the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) trying to create an open programming model for that.
Within the next few months, you will see how Windows XP, for example, could be a great client with apps written on it to take advantage of some of the Web services that people are doing. And you don't have to re-engineer your Web site to make it accessible through programming instead of just through dumb browsers.
This opens up an incredible set of potential applications, such as having an auction site that can automatically look for an item, and then when it reaches a certain bid, it will then go to your bank and transfer funds to the person who put that item on sale.
InfoWorld: Where else is this type of capability likely to change the way we interact using the Internet?
Allchin: If I have a bank and a brokerage company, and I want to see on one screen an aggregate of the total I have in my bank and the total in the brokerage firm, I can't do this today. I have to bring up two windows, and I certainly can't do a calculation between them. Imagine you had the ability to do a total across these two locations. Wouldn't that be wonderful? The technology is essentially almost here in order to do that.
InfoWorld: How does Microsoft .Net fit into this possibility?
Allchin: I believe the company is very clear on what it is, and there are five simple points.