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I attended two sessions today given by Danny Thorpe, formerly of Borland, on the developer API for, Microsoft’s attempt to match Google as a Web 2.0 platform. Even the business model is Google-style: everything is free, supported by advertising with the possibility of revenue sharing for users. Unlike ASP.NET, the API is cross-platform on both client and server – presumably itself runs on .NET, but that is not a requirement for users of the various gadgets and services.

It’s strange to hear Thorpe talking about doing clever stuff with JavaScript – quite a change from Delphi’s native code compiler – but he describes it as just another way to write libraries for Microsoft’s platform. He is an enthusiast for doing aggregation (mash-ups) client-side aggregation, explaining that it improves scalability by reducing the amount of processing needed on web servers.

A key theme is how to build social applications that draw on the vast userbase of Hotmail and Windows Messenger, but without compromising privacy.

Interesting stuff, and I don’t doubt Microsoft’s commitment to even though it is not centre-stage here at Tech-Ed. At the same time I am picking up lack of cohesion in the overall platform strategy. Microsoft has endeavoured to create an internal startup culture, and while this is clearly generating some energy it comes at a price. There seem to be a number of different sub-organizations which do not work closely together. The Office Live initiative, which provides web hosting and cloud-based applications aimed at small businesses, is apparently separate from The ASP.NET AJAX libraries are different from the JavaScript libraries, even though there is overlap in the problems they address. Danny Thorpe is aware of these issues and says the company is working on internal collaboration, but it seems to me that fragmentation will be a growing problem as the various groups evolve.