by Jean Paoli on November 07, 2008 01:21am

Interoperability has always been a focus area at Microsoft. Being a platform company, Microsoft has engaged in interoperability at many levels - product features, participation in standardization bodies, publishing many technologies under open licenses and working closely with customers, governments and partners to understand the heterogeneous IT landscape and discuss practical interoperability solutions.

Earlier this year, these activities were formalized under the Interoperability Principles for all of our high-volume products.

I am the General Manager of Interoperability Strategy at Microsoft, and I have worked across the company on many interop initiatives. I am happy to see many interop projects now coming out of Microsoft and, personally, having many of them based on XML makes me doubly happy. Smile

My team has built several bridging technologies and solutions for many of our products to enable interoperability. These are being run as open source projects and released under a broad BSD license so that our customers and partners can use them in many open and broad scenarios.

Interoperability has been getting enhanced attention at a lot of conferences lately and Microsoft has also upped its participation at many open source conferences such as OSCON, the Eclipse Conference and ApacheCon.

At Microsoft's Professional Developer's Conference last month, the interoperability story was part of almost every announcement and keynote address. As Sam Ramji writes in his latest blog, Microsoft is also participating at ApacheCon and highlighting the interoperability work we are doing. These are indeed exciting times!

On the interoperability front, my team has been working with the WSO2 since the TechEd 2007 Conference to demonstrate interoperability using our StockTrader reference application.

This week, the WSO2 proposed a new Apache incubation project, known as Stonehenge, to further this work. The aim of this project is to set up sample applications to demonstrate interoperability with multiple underlying platform technologies by using currently defined W3C and OASIS standard protocols. We look forward to working with WS02 on the scope of this project, and having discussions with the community.

I also want to highlight some open source interoperability projects that my team has been working on with third parties, companies and members of the community at large, which may be very relevant to the readers of this blog.

Eclipse Tools for Silverlight

Eclipse4sl allows Java developers to develop code for the Silverlight platform within the Eclipse development environment, and contains both an advanced project system for creating Silverlight applications and media experiences as well as a compiler for packaging Silverlight applications for deployment.

Interoperability with the Azure Services platform

Announced at PDC recently, the Azure Services Platform is an internet-scale cloud computing and services platform hosted in Microsoft data centers. It provides an operating system and a set of developer services which can be used individually or together. Microsoft .NET Services is a key component of the Azure Services Platform that offers a set of Microsoft-hosted, highly scalable, developer-oriented services that provide the key building blocks, like, Access Control, Service Bus, and Workflow service.

The Azure Services Platform, built from the ground up to be consistent with Microsoft's commitment to openness and interoperability and in that spirit, we have built two cross-platform SDKs for .NET services - for Java and Ruby.

Information Cards Interoperability

Windows CardSpace is Microsoft implementation of Information Cards on the Windows platform. Information cards are a core part of Identity Metasystem and help both site owners and visitors to manage, control, and exchange digital identities more safely and consistently.

We have also built four open source projects that help Web developers support information cards on diverse platforms:

OpenXML-ODF translators

The goal of this project is to provide translators to allow for interoperability between applications based on ODF (OpenDocument) standard and Office Open XML standard. The translator is based on XSLT transformations between two XML formats, along with some pre- and post-processing, and is available on Sourceforge under a BSD-like license.

OpenXML-UOF translators

The goal of this project is to provide translators to allow for interoperability between applications based on UOF (Uniform Office Format) standard and Office Open XML standard.

UOF is an emerging standard, which is being developed by the Chinese Office Software Work Group (COSWG), led by the China Electronics Standard Institute (CESI), the Ministry of Information Industry (MII), major suppliers of Chinese office software suites, and other academic institutions.The translator is based on XSLT transformations between two XML formats, along with some pre- and post-processing. It is available at SourceForge under a BSD-like license

I would like to hear your comments and feedback on these projects and also welcome open engagement on what Microsoft should be doing for interoperability. Tell us what other interoperability scenarios we should be looking to address.

I also want to thank the multiple third party companies and the community members we cooperate with, as well as the members of my team: Vijay Rajagopalan, Sumit Chawla, Kamaljit Bath, Claudio Caldato, Jean-Christophe Cimetiere and many others for working on these projects and building technical solutions for interoperability with key Microsoft products and technologies.