Microsoft reaches out to developers with Live

Software giant launches Windows Live Developer Center to entice coders to write "mashup" apps on its hosted services.

LAS VEGAS--Microsoft has launched a Web site to entice software developers to write "mashup" applications that connect to the company's Web properties, a move that reflects a companywide transition to hosted services.

The Microsoft Developer Network earlier this week launched Windows Live Developer Center in conjunction with the Mix '06 Web developer conference being held here.

The site offers documentation for software developers to write applications that tap into data or services from Microsoft Web sites. For example, a programmer could write a mashup--hybrid software that fuses content from more than one source--that combines information from an e-commerce Web site with MSN Search or Microsoft's Virtual Earth mapping site.

Window Live chart

Like other Web properties, Microsoft publishes the application programming interfaces, or APIs, that give developers the technical instructions to write applications.

So far, it has published technical information related to MSN Search, MSN Messenger, MSN Spaces blogging software, as well as gadgets, which are mini applications that run in the Sidebar window of Vista. Windows Vista is the next desktop version of Windows which is due in retail outlets in January of next year.

At the Mix '06 conference this week, Microsoft executives encouraged third-party developers to consider Microsoft's products and hosted services as a "" on which to build applications.

In a keynote speech on Monday, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said programmable Web sites are "an idea whose time has come."

Similarly, Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft's eHome division, said in a keynote speech on Tuesday that software companies can write gadgets for Windows Vista. He showed a Yahoo gadget that fed music from a Yahoo Web site to a PC.

Belfiore added that Microsoft will host a site for third-party gadgets and that the company will help software and hardware companies to distribute gadgets.

Making money with mashups?
The Live Developer Center is meant to woo developers to write applications and help Microsoft build up a large portfolio of third-party software for the company's Web services. Some existing services, such as MSN Messenger and Hotmail, are being rebranded with the Live name.

Microsoft's newly introduced Live services, such as Office Live, seek to create a link between on-premise applications and hosted services.

That's a "theme" that will continue as Microsoft develops its lineup of Live services, Gates said.

"The idea that there will be complementary capability, where using rich-client capability and Web capability--that's a big theme from us," he said. "You want richness and responsiveness that local applications can provide."

In addition to technical information, the Live Developer Center provides third parties with some tips on how to make money writing mashup applications, including advertising and building closer relationships with customers online.

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