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Smells Like a Web Platform May 1, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Microsoft fired a few shots across the bows of platform competitors like Google and Amazon at the opening of its MIX07 developers’ conference. The message got lost in the buzz around Flash-wannabe Silverlight, but it shows that the old dog still knows a thing or two about supporting a developer ecosystem. Microsoft rolled out a terms of use and licensing plan for would-be mashers-up of some of its core web services, including search, photo sharing, contacts, ID, Virtual Earth, and Silverlight.

Microsoft is trying to make mashups a bit more businesslike, and bringing some tried and true tactics like suites, stable programming interfaces, and fairly aggressive pricing. Developers can get at most services via APIs for free until you hit a million users (25 cents per year per user across the suite after that), and restrictions about using them in commercial ventures are relaxed. There will eventually be a richer set of fee-based support and service level agreements.

Still, while Google may be more scattershot in the consistency of its APIs, and notorious for its lack of developer support, well, using its search API is free.

At MIX, Match.com is scheduled to show off some on-the-fly anonymous IM and presence management built atop Microsoft service APIs. But the true test of the program won’t be securing existing Windows developers, but tapping into — no make that “locking in,” in a good way, mind you — the new age Web 2.0 types. We’ll see.

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