March 19, 2001 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Hailstorm! "Web Services" like Ebay on your im app, email, phone, whatever. Is the era of the "universal login" finally here? (Microsoft or not).
posted by owillis (18 comments total)
Dave Winer's latest Davenet column connects this Hailstorm news to the world of weblogs. As mentioned in the column, he's "pointing to every well-stated position on HailStorm that comes across my desktop
posted by fpatrick at 3:50 PM on March 19, 2001

The article is so dense and full of buzzwords that I could barely drive my way through the first paragraph. I gave up after the second.

Are there any brave souls out there who feel like translating this? I want to know just how worried I should be.
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:58 PM on March 19, 2001

My, my my. Does anybody else just hate everything becoming "My" for the last couple of years? I KNOW it's My Computer, I paid for the damn thing.

Mars: I know someone who works for Microsoft(but I like him, anyway). I'll ask about a summary. Will probably take three sentences.
posted by Su at 4:03 PM on March 19, 2001

They have seemingly forgotton myblog and mymetafilter. Odd.
posted by daver at 4:09 PM on March 19, 2001

This sounds strangely reminiscent of other MSFT standards creation or acceptance. Any reason tried and true Embrace and Extend (tm) strategies won't work here? According to the limited reading I've done, there are 2 major things at work: a drive towards centralizing a lot of apps into web services on MSFT's hard drives (you pay rent), and an underlying object model that actually makes it possible to exchange objects via web friendly technologies (SOAP).

Please -- I'm a total neophyte -- but doesn't this sound just a bit like other MSFT setups? Of course, it also sounds like good business even if it doesn't get to the extend portion of the strategy.
posted by daver at 4:38 PM on March 19, 2001

My reading is that Hailstorm is a (centralized) data store which allows users to authenticate themselves with various websites and sevices without having to reenter their data over and over.

Every corporation wants a chance to play this role and become the centralized repository of all user data in the world. Microsoft seem to have a good architecture, are competitors going to be allowed?

What I couldn't work out was where the value proposition was for the user? Making desktop apps into web services doesn't seem very compelling to anyone except Microsoft.
posted by lagado at 4:53 PM on March 19, 2001

I think a good way to look at it is, if there was an mp3 storage locker online, i could access it everywhere through one login that's the same as my email, online bank account, brokerage account - on one screen.

Then for instance, metafilter could build an interface that puts all those services + mefi on the site - through one login...
posted by owillis at 4:53 PM on March 19, 2001

The part that irks me is that under the guise of me controlling my information, Microsoft actually will be storing, backing up, and keeping all of "my" data.

MS Passport has always scared me, but this could be a million times worse. It's convenience, but at a price (not to mention the fees they're also adding for the convenience).
posted by mathowie at 5:15 PM on March 19, 2001

How is this anything but Passport scaled up to a few wireless devices? If this is the cornerstone of .NET, then Microsoft's seriously f---ed. Let's see ... I can either let one of the most privacy-sloppy corporations in the history of computing have permanent access to all my important personal data, and pay them for the so-called privilege, or I can store in on my own device for free, and have no privacy questions whatsoever. Hmmmmm. Tough decision!
posted by aaron at 5:58 PM on March 19, 2001

"Oh, did you hear the really interesting stuff? According to my sources, Microsoft is going to force all Windows XP users to sign up for a Passport before they'll be able to get on the Internet." - Robert Scoble

Oh my, this is a mistake. Many of the concepts behind Hailstorm and .NET come directly from open source projects like Jabber and Mozilla, but don't expect Microsoft to ever admit that.
posted by camworld at 6:46 PM on March 19, 2001

camworld: the difference is microsoft have a massive user base already, via hotmail/passport/msn messanger/etc, and it's looking like they're ready to overtake the jabbers and the mozillas via brute force of developer numbers.

i'm pinning my hopes on ximian bringing this sort of functionality to the open source/free software world. they seem to be the ones showing real momentum at the moment.
posted by titboy at 8:36 PM on March 19, 2001

Why is it when Microsoft does something, people feel its good to whine to the DOJ than actually produce a better product?
posted by owillis at 9:30 PM on March 19, 2001

No, lagado, that was Passport. What Hailstorm gives you is a variety of internet sites that can "plug in" to web services like Ebay. Yesterday, eBay was a proprietary website you had to visit to use; today (metaphorically), eBay is a software package you can install on your website. That's the second part of the "developer opportunity" -- where they say that developers can "expose" their services online via Hailstorm. Without that crucial hook, this really is just Passport souped up.

What's the bottom line? Microsoft is trying (once again) to leverage the next generation of the internet into a revenue stream that passes through their servers -- and fingers. They lost out on the whole "free browser" era, sinking tons of development years and money into making something they had to give away. MSN failed to turn the web into television, but this does promise to give them a shot at developing services for which they can charge user fees and license applications. In a way, the browser was the razor handle, and this is a bid to sell the blades. It's closely connected with the browser, still, but they envision a point when the browser goes away and doesn't matter. For instance, M$ Money isn't a browser, but it currently does some online things -- e.g. stock quotes -- that could be Hailstorm-ified and enhanced further. Voila! a non-browser-based web service application client.

Given the history of the web up to this point, though, I think we can all take heart that the market forces don't favor this kind of centralization and user-fee structure. We'll see, though.
posted by dhartung at 11:34 PM on March 19, 2001

I don't think MS is trying to centralize anything. SOAP is nothing more than a next-generation protocol, an HTTP II if you will, only this time, instead of plain content you distribute software logic.

In its essence, it's brilliant: connect web services seamlessly without worrying about the internals of each service, using an accepted "lingua franca" --SOAP may have been an MS protocol (based on Dave Winer's XML-RPC) but IBM and Sun have also embraced it.

MS is betting the farm on this one, and they're doing it in a very, very ballsy way: there is nothing inherent in HailStorm or SOAP that will tie this New Web to MS: if there is a Hotmail SOAP API, Yahoo can just as easily use a compatible SOAP API (SOAP is so easy, that's almost trivial) for Yahoo Mail. MS is betting that their development tools and the XP platform will be so compelling to developers that they will *choose* to use them instead of being forced to.

I know we all like to bitch and moan about MS, but I have to admire their guts here...

PS: I don't think this is too original either: you could argue that finger services or ftp-over-email services were essentially the same concept, and that's going *way* back, in the ancient days of the 70s...
posted by costas at 1:11 AM on March 20, 2001

Oh my, this is a mistake. Many of the concepts behind Hailstorm and .NET come directly from open source projects like Jabber and Mozilla, but don't expect Microsoft to ever admit that.

Yadda, yadda, yadda, open source, blah blah blah... The people at Jabber and Mozilla didn't invent those products either, they're built on the foundations of those that went before them. The difference here - if the relatively short history of the personal computer is any reference - is that Microsoft will actually make it work (long around version 3.0, would be my eddifcated guess) and that while there will always be plenty of people around to whine about them, they will get richer and richer and richer...
posted by m.polo at 5:09 AM on March 20, 2001

It's a really smart way to capture more revenue for Microsoft. Think of it as Heroin. Cheap to get involved in. Sexy apps, easy to build. The amazing thing is that the APIs are built on relatively standard XML-RPC interfaces. That means that the "language" of Hailstorm is open.

It's the Passport part that is scary. Passport means that if you build a Hailstorm component, every one of "your" users that logs in becomes a Microsoft user, stored on Microsoft servers, over at Microsoft.

The big issue is that Microsoft has already admitted that they will charge money for the services component, such as directory services. That means in order to look up things, you will have to pay them. This would be something akin to having to pay Network Solutions *Every Time* you looked up a DNS entry to get a web page.

I predict they offer free services until they have a critical mass of users, and then they start arm twisting. Which will possibly be fine because there will probably end up some open source alternatives like Jabber and openLDAP.

A Good source of news about Hailstorm.
posted by mikojava at 6:10 AM on March 20, 2001

Sweet mother of god! A company charging for it's services? Heaven forbid...
posted by owillis at 7:51 AM on March 20, 2001

Regarding "My" stuff, I think Peter covered it all fairly eloquently almost 3 years ago.
posted by anildash at 3:02 PM on March 20, 2001

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