Microsoft Refocuses HailStorm Efforts

Redmond executives once had high hopes for the project dubbed HailStorm and later renamed to the less evil moniker, .NET My Services. But the change did nothing to convince partners, whose less than enthusiastic response to the idea of Microsoft-operated user services, such as an electronic wallet, has forced the company to shift its focus.

Originally slated for inclusion in HailStorm's initial offering were e-mail, a calendar, electronic wallet, Passport, .NET Alerts, and more. Although the company says it will remain committed to such Web services, Microsoft will only host Passport and Alerts in house. The platform behind the other planned services will instead be offered to third parties.

"Microsoft is shifting from a model in which MSN was the sole operator of these services to one where software to run user-centric services is available to multiple operators," a company spokesperson told BetaNews. "Don't confuse an expansion of the operator strategy with any kind of de-commitment from the idea of user-centric web services that help create a more personalized, more consistent experience across the different technologies in an individual's life."

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.NET My Services was released in alpha form last October after the Professional Developer Conference in Los Angeles. Partners and testers were given access to an SDK that contained sample applications, along with the bits required to run a standalone .NET My Services server. Microsoft's largest partners seemingly were more interested in utilizing the technology themselves, rather than relying on Microsoft as a middle man between customers.

"Frankly, selling this stuff to people who build large data centers with our software is not a bad model," Microsoft's group manager of business development for Microsoft's Platform Strategy Group Charles Fitzgerald told the New York Times last week in an article that Microsoft claims overstates the decision to decentralize.

A beta release of .NET My Services was scheduled for earlier this year, but was postponed due to uncertainty in the marketplace. Although many large corporations have expressed support for .NET and Web services in general, few have actually implemented the new technology.

But Microsoft continues to push adoption of .NET despite any hesitation from businesses and consumers. The company recently posted the .NET Framework as a recommended update on Windows Update and just last week launched its first commercial Web service, MapPoint .NET.

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