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Web services: The new buzz

The stakes for Web services are high in the software industry, as companies try to revitalize sales in a punishing economy. But the players face an uphill battle.


"Web services" try to rise above din

By Wylie Wong, Margaret Kane, and Mike Ricciuti
Staff Writers, CNET
November 8, 2001, 4:00 a.m. PT

Is it the next big thing or the next big hype?

Just about every software maker has embraced "Web services" as its new mantra in the past year, claiming that the trend will revolutionize business and the use of the Internet. Although it was initially met with skepticism, the idea has gained credibility with the support of such industry leaders as Microsoft, IBM and Sun Microsystems.

The stakes are particularly high for the software industry, which is trying to revitalize sales in a punishing economy. But before the concept can take off, companies face an uphill battle in convincing customers that they need Web services--and in explaining what they are.

Pitch: Why Web services make business sense

Pitch: Why Web services make business sense
Proponents say these services--run on Web servers instead of PCs--can connect the operations of many companies and partners simultaneously, allowing them to do business through any Net device, with real-time updates.

Players: Start-ups may get window to fill gaps
The prospect of new opportunities has many small software companies salivating, but they will need to act quickly to find a niche before getting squeezed out by large rivals with more resources and influence.

Rules: Leaders avert standards battle--for now
Led by Microsoft and IBM, longtime enemies have engaged in extraordinary cooperation to create technological standards for Web services, underscoring the need to pump new life into the industry.

Star: XML could become new lingua franca
If Web services live up to their full potential, a once obscure technology known as Extensible Markup Language may become a major success story as the linchpin that holds the entire concept together.

Download a PDF version of this exclusive special report

Editors: Mike Yamamoto, Mike Ricciuti, Jon Skillings, Jennifer Balderama
Design: Ellen Ng, Jeff Quan
Production: Ben Helm