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Microsoft livens up Web pages

Microsoft ships a key piece of technology for building more useful intranet applications that mimic existing client-server systems in their ability to handle live data.

Microsoft (MSFT) today shipped a key piece of technology for building more useful intranet applications that can mimic existing client-server systems'ability to handle live data.

The technology, called the Advanced Data Connector (ADC), is software that links Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser to server databases across the Internet. Current Web applications can only present a read-only, static view of data retrieved from databases. Any changes to the data stored on the server requires a round-trip to the database server, which can make using any data-centric Web application, such as an e-commerce system, excruciatingly slow.

Using ADC, developers can build applications that cache database information locally on client machines, greatly improving the performance of applications. Microsoft hopes the tool will pave the way for new Web applications that can truly mimic client-server systems' ability to work with data.

There is one catch: ADC only works with Microsoft's own technology, such as the Internet Explorer browser, Internet Information Server Web server, SQL Server database, Windows NT operating system, and Visual Basic development tools. The ADC does allow access to any Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) data source, such as databases from Oracle and other makers.

Microsoft incorporated a data access application programming interface called OLE DB into the ADC, which means the tool can access audio, video, spreadsheet data, word processing files, and other data, as well as tabular information stored in databases.

The ADC also allows developers to partition Web application logic between client and server systems to make the most efficient use of network bandwidth and resources, said Microsoft.

The ADC can be downloaded at no charge from Microsoft's Web site.