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Microsoft to Mix it up again Web crowd

Microsoft on Wednesday opened registration for Mix 2007, a conference dedicated to endearing Microsoft to Web developers, designers and advertising pros.

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect, is scheduled as the first keynoter. Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's chief Web development geek, will also speak.

Most likely, Ozzie will discuss Microsoft and the "services disruption," his words for a larger industry shift toward Web-based applications supported by subscriptions and advertising.

Guthrie, a general manager in Microsoft's Developer Division, is expected to talk about all things Web development, including Microsoft's Atlas Ajax tools and its cross-platform software code-named Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere, sometimes referred to as an Adobe "Flash killer."

The Mix conference, which the company first held last year, is a very deliberate attempt to reach beyond Microsoft's comfort zone of corporate software developers and ISVs, said Tim O'Brien, director of Microsoft's platform strategy group.

"We see (this conference) as re-engaging with a big segment of the Web community that didn't have a big engagement with Microsoft before," O'Brien said, adding that Microsoft has sought to maintain a regular communication with leading-edge Web developers, designers, tech bloggers and the like over the past year.

Microsoft wants to emphasize its commitment to Web standards, light-weight development techniques, and serious cross-platform support, said O'Brien.

One session, for example, is about writing PHP applications with Microsoft's Atlas Ajax framework. The scripting language PHP (part of the open-source LAMP stack) is widely used for Web development but has not been heavily promoted or endorsed by Microsoft.

The overall theme of the conference will be the business benefit of investing in improving the "user experience," or effective user interfaces, O'Brien said.

Other important products on display will be Microsoft's Live Web services and its Expression design tools, which are built to smooth out collaboration between designers and developers.