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A MS-Sun "Debate"
Thursday, May 06 2004 @ 02:38 PM EDT

A Groklaw reader in the UK went to what was advertised as a debate between Microsoft and Sun Microsystems over their respective approaches to web services, .NET and J2EE. He attended what he says turned out to be more of a roadshow with each selling its product, but together, side-by-side. It makes me wonder if the legal settlement requires such co-productions or if they just enjoy each others' company. More likely, my theory is proving true: they intend to present the idea that they are the two good choices for business but that Red Hat is a bad choice.

Here is what the "debate" was supposed to be about:

"The University of Hertfordshire is to host a debate between Microsoft and Sun Microsystems about their respective approaches to Web Services - the exciting new technology that allows computerised systems to locate and use other services over the Web.

"This approach allows the possibility of integrating legacy, corporate and heterogeneous systems into a coherent whole or the leveraging new systems utilising multi-vendor services. Not surprisingly, these ambitious goals require the use of some complex technologies, including XML (eXtensible Markup Language) to achieve data portability across heterogeneous systems, SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) to transfer XML-encoded data, WSDL (Web Services Description Language) to allow services to describe themselves, and UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration) registry services.

"The trick is making all this technology accessible to system designers and implementers. Currently, the two most prominent approaches are Microsoft’s .NET architecture and J2EE based around Sun’s language Java. Unsurprisingly, each approach has its champions and detractors.

"Andrew Bull, YPG liaison for the BCS Hertfordshire Branch says, ‘This event is a good opportunity for the local BCS to get involved with a valuable debate, so we’re encouraging as many BCS members as possible to attend.’

"The School of Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire is hosting the debate, which will see the Microsoft and Sun Microsystems teams address the following points: overview of the architecture, key design points, customer examples & testimonies and a summary."

The University also collected some information on web services so attendees could prepare, including a link to the XML Protocol Working Group's list archive here. I understand slides will be available eventually.

The XML page has a link to the XML Development History page. They also list a Sun and Web Services page and a Microsoft and Web Services page. The latter includes this:

"Get Java/.NET Interoperability with the Web Service

"Find out how to create a more advanced Java client or Web-based application using the methods outlined in this article, including how the WS-Security specification and implementation can be used to validate a Web service call from Java to Microsoft .NET.

So, no moss is growing on Microsoft. Sun's page didn't seem to have anything comparable, by the way.

Here is John's report on the event, and I think you'll see that if Sun and Microsoft are still competitors, as immediately after the settlement was announced Sun insisted they still are, they are certainly competing in a brand new way. I think my theory continues to stand: the plan is to present each other as the two good choices and each attack Red Hat: "Open standards are better than open source," dontcha know? Here is another viewpoint.


Gosh if that was supposed to be a debate I wonder what a love-fest complete with flowers and guitars would have been like.

Even the agenda introduced the Sun people as being from Microsoft and vice versa and no one seemed to mind.

The Sun presentation was how J2EE was a wonderful open standard that would do everything and let you implement things to make the tea as well.

The M$ presentation was how .NET was a wonderful open implementation of J2EE (listing all sorts of OSes it was available on including FreeBSD - one OS being conspicuous by its absence I'll leave you to guess which but to help you along it's 5 letters, starts with L and ends with X).

The two "sides" had slide shows on laptops which the Sun team let slip was on Linux on theirs. Their slide show had nice fading in and out of the points they were making whilst the M$ slide show had a sickening black screen with an hourglass in for about 5 seconds between each slide - heh heh.

The M$ slide show ended with a video presentation from about half a dozen people saying how wonderful their life had become since they started using .NET - sounded a bit like a sort of "how I got religion" testimony with the same sort of monotone voice and glassy-eyed stare. Didn't end with a hymn to Sir Bill though.

I got the first question in which alluded to the error in the agenda and asked if I'd come to the wrong meeting as I'd come to a "debate" and could they tell me what they disagree about. They (mostly the chief M$ guy) replied with a load of waffle.

No one from SCO was there as far as I could tell although they only had to cross the car park to get there and apart from letting slip about the Sun laptop running Linux there and another token mention at one point and a flurry of acronyms (or whatever the collective noun is - "aggregation" perhaps??) to totally transfix the listener it was about as controversial as last year's phone book.

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