For all the hype about its inaugural MIX 06 show in Las Vegas this week, Microsoft will have scant news at the show, according to a company executive. Microsoft plans to release two previews of forthcoming technologies--its Internet Explorer 7 browser and Atlas development framework--at MIX, which kicks off Monday with a keynote by Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates.
Gates will unveil a refresh of a test release of Internet Explorer 7, as well as a Community Technology Preview (CTP) of Microsoft's Atlas development framework, according to Tim O'Brien, a group manager at Microsoft.
Microsoft's IE team already stole Gates' thunder on the former in its IEBlog last week; the group posted a link to a transcript of an IE Expert Zone chat that already revealed that a new test version of IE 7 would be released at MIX.
One notable point about the new beta 2 refresh of IE 7 is that it will be layout-complete, which means the rendering engine of the browser is in its finished form. Developers can use the IE 7 preview released at MIX 06 to test applications and Web pages to see how they will perform in the browser once it is released, O'Brien said.
Microsoft will include IE 7 in Windows Vista, the next version of the Windows client OS which is due in November or December of this year. A version for Windows XP also will be released around that time.
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Microsoft's Atlas, a framework for doing Web services development, is still in its earliest test versions, and Microsoft has not yet determined when it will be in full release, according to O'Brien. Still, the test preview released at MIX 06 will come with a free "Go Live" license, which means that developers can deploy the technology to AJAX-enable applications now to get a head start in using the technology, he said.
Microsoft plans to make Atlas available in its ASP.NET developer tool, a part of its Visual Studio toolset, in the time frame that it releases the next version of Visual Studio, code-named Orcas. Microsoft has said the Orcas version of Visual Studio will be released around the same time as the Longhorn version of Windows Server, which is expected in 2007. Microsoft just released a major update to Visual Studio in November 2005.
Microsoft's MIX 06 show is aimed at showing Web designers and developers how they can use Microsoft technologies to deliver state-of-the-art business Web sites and next-generation Web-based applications. It also is Microsoft's forum for shedding clarity on the company's strategy for Web 2.0, the new era of programming that uses the Internet as a platform for applications and services.
Until now Microsoft's Web 2.0 strategy has sometimes felt like a "me, too" response to the success of Web-based services provided by Google and Yahoo. In addition to development technologies, the company has also launched a set of Web-based services branded under the "Live" moniker to keep pace with its younger and more nimble Internet rivals. But analysts said that the company's strategy to use the Web as a development platform goes far deeper than that, something it aims to prove at the developer-centric MIX.