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Microsoft introduces next generation Windows services

But nothing to actually show

Despite the delay of Microsoft's much-anticipated Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS) rollout, developers are likely to hear new details about the company's plans this week.

Microsoft had planned to unveil NGWS, its vision of Web-enabled software services, a fortnight ago. The official line is that the event was pushed back to 22 June, because a decision in the company's antitrust case could overshadow the rollout.

At this week's Tech Ed event in Orlando, Bill Gates is expected to give his keynote on NGWS. But no sessions on it are planned.

"It's really hard for these developers to follow Microsoft's lead if [it isn't] saying anything," said Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at research company IDC.

NGWS is Microsoft's plan for transforming its various software products into services that can be offered on the Internet. These services will be accessed from various devices using the standard XML protocol, but Microsoft executives have hinted that Windows-based PCs will offer a richer interface to the services.

So far, information about NGWS has been so fragmented that "it could be anything, and it could be nothing," said Kusnetzky.

If NGWS is a just repositioning of existing products, it could still be a momentous event. Some industry observers believe NGWS is similar to Microsoft’s change of tune over the Internet in 1995, when it was forced to do an about turn in the face of Netscape’s ballistic success.

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