Services & Software

Microsoft to embed Live services in Windows programs

The company preps a developer's kit to link Windows Live ID to "rich client" Windows applications.

BOSTON--Microsoft's Live-branded online services don't end at the Web browser. They extend deep into Windows.

The company last week quietly showed off software for embedding its Web-based Windows Live ID authentication services within Windows applications. Windows Live ID is the successor to Microsoft Passport, a hosted service for verifying a person's name and password for logging onto Web servers.

Later this year, Microsoft will release a beta version of a software developer's kit (SDK) for making the Windows Live ID service function within a Windows application, said Lynn Ayres, program manager on the Windows Live ID team.

Right now, Windows Live ID authentication services are designed to work with Microsoft's Web-based applications such as Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Messenger.

With the developer's kit, called Windows Live ID Client SDK, Microsoft is seeking to create closer integration between its Web-based hosted services and "rich client" Windows applications, Ayres said.

For example, a developer could write a Windows application that has a button for buying from an e-commerce site. The Windows Live ID authentication window could pop up from within the Windows application to verify an end user's security credentials.

"This SDK makes it easier to write new client applications that understand Windows Live IDs and supports the sharing of authentication state across multiple rich clients and browsers," according to a Windows Live ID white paper published earlier this year.

In addition, Microsoft is working on another development kit to connect Web site operators to Microsoft's Windows Live ID service. That SDK will use standards-based protocols, including the Simple Object Access Protocol, according to the company.

At the TechEd conference, Microsoft offered a few more details of its strategy to make more money from Windows Live services, in part by relying on third-party developers.

In a keynote speech, Ray Ozzie, who replaced Bill Gates as chief software architect last week, described how Microsoft-hosted services, such as Web search and network authentication, could be used by IT professionals and software developers.

These online services can be linked to create "mashups," such as a real estate listing application that uses a mapping service to display locations.

Ozzie indicated that Microsoft Live services are being designed to complement Microsoft's on-premise Windows-based software, rather than replace it with browser-based applications.

"There are always extremists who say every application will be accessed by a browser and everything will be moving to the computing cloud and that enterprise data centers will go away," he said.

"Microsoft is taking a very pragmatic approach, a seamless, blended client-server-services approach...where services complement and extend Windows and Office applications to the Internet," he said.

Over time, Microsoft will release more application programming interfaces and tools to encourage third-party developers to write Live applications that tie into Windows, company executives said.

For example, the company earlier this month released an SDK for writing mini-applications called gadgets.

Once developers write a gadget for aggregating an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed, for instance, the gadget can run on both the Windows Live site and on the Windows Vista Sidebar.