P2P designed for real-time communications server
As it prepares several collaboration software products for debut this year, Microsoft has released a Windows XP update and software development kit to enable peer-to-peer networking across those products.
The Advanced Networking Pack for Windows XP, which is available Thursday as a stand-alone update and will be folded into the Windows XP Service Pack 2 later this year, incorporates the necessary plumbing to enable applications that exploit P2P functionality--realtime communications and collaboration apps, for example, Microsoft executives said on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the company disclosed updated names for its forthcoming Real-time Communications Server and Web conferencing technology: Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2003, formerly PlaceWare Conference Center, and Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003, respectively.
Microsoft would not elaborate on how the collaboration services will leverage P2P technology, but one company executive said that Microsoft's P2P team has worked closely with the Real-time Communications Server team for some time.
The Windows XP P2P code and SDK will enable developers--including ISVs such as Corel, Groove Networks and Microsoft--to build better distributed applications and Web services that leverage corporate network resources, including the abundant processing power of PCs, executives said. And like Sun's Juxtapose (JXTA) P2P technology, Microsoft's code will allow distributed devices to be connected together.
Corel, for instance, plans to leverage Microsoft's technology to enable collaboration on its Tablet PC graphics program, Grafigo, from various locations, Microsoft said.
The software behemoth's P2P network stack includes enhancements to IPv6 that allow peer-to-peer traffic to traverse network address translators (NATs), a peer-to-peer name resolution tool, and graphing and grouping functionality for enabling more efficient multipoint communication and distributed data management, Microsoft executives said.
To handle security, Microsoft also integrated identity management features for the development of and management of peer-to-peer identities within and outside corporate firewalls.
One Microsoft executive said the technology will ultimately be integrated into Windows and all solutions to connect people together.
"It's a classic Microsoft platform play," said Adam Sohn, product manager for the Platform Strategy Group at Microsoft. "ISVS all want Microsoft to provide the network plumbing so they don't have to reinvent the wheel."
ISVs will also be able to exploit the P2P update and kit to develop enhanced software update sites. That would allow corporate customers to download updates once and redistribute them across their networks rather than exhaust network bandwidth by requiring each user to download it separately. This will be particularly useful for small businesses with 10 PCs or fewer and limited network bandwidth, executives said.
The software giant released a beta-test version of the Windows XP Peer-to-Peer SDK last February.
Sohn said the P2P technology will be tightly integrated and expanded in the company's next Windows client, code-named Longhorn, and will be leveraged by many Microsoft products.
"This is vital glue that enables a new set of applications and opportunities for solution providers and ISVs," Sohn said. "It's a key set of technologies for distributed applications development."