Update: Microsoft Posts InfoCard, Avalon, Indigo Code

Indigo Web Services technology

Avalon and Indigo are key technologies that were to be part of the upcoming Longhorn version of Windows. With delays to that operating system, Microsoft said it would make these subsystems available for the current Windows XP and Windows 2003 operating systems. It is evaluating whether it will do the same with the WinFS file system as well, a spokeman said.

The beta, downloadable from this Microsoft Web site, also offers the first tech preview of Infocard--digital identity technology aimed at making computing safer.

InfoCard will provide both the "end user experience" for managing this data--over which the user will have full control, as well as APIs for developers to build InfoCard-compliant applications, said Ari Bixhorn, lead product manager for Web Services.

Built atop Indigo, InfoCard will run on Windows XP and Windows 2003, as well, he noted. "Just as there are different ways to manage the idea of identity in the physical world with cards in our wallet or purse issued by multiple institutions and banks, there will be different ways to manage that in the digital world," Bixhorn said.

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InfoCard is basically Microsoft's implementation of the WS-Star specification, he added.

Microsoft also added some new functionality to Avalon and Indigo since their Community Technical Preview releases in March.

This implementation of Indigo, for example, adds new peer-to-peer functionality to facilitate multi-party messaging and game applications, collaborative whiteboarding, and broadcast of information such as weather and sports scores, Bixhorn said. This technology does not borrow from Groove Networks portfolio but was built specifically for Indigo, Bixhorn said. Microsoft recently purchased what it didn't already own of Groove, which blazed a trail in peer-to-peer collaboration.

This beta build also promises seamless integration with applications developed with older Microsoft queueing technology, he added.

Avalon adds some new video capability that will let developers integrate audio and video into their own user interface and will be able to load and play multiple videos simultaneously, Bixhorn said. A new "Visual Brush" feature will let them manipulate graphics and apply them to 3-D surfaces, he said.

In addition, Avalon will support the "Metro" print and display technology Microsoft unveiled at WinHEC.

This story was updated Monday afternoon with quotes from Ari Bixhorn.