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Mash-Up Tools, Updated IE Beta Bow at Mix06

Microsoft released a refreshed Beta 2 preview of Internet Explorer 7 along with key beta development tools at Mix06, the company’s first-ever Web site developer and designer conclave kicked off in Las Vegas on Monday.

The releases include the latest community technology preview for Microsoft’s “Atlas” tools for building applications that use the new Windows Presentation Foundation built upon asynchronous JavaScript and XML technologies (AJAX).

Atlas is an ASP.NET 2.0 framework for building cross–browser, cross–platform AJAX applications. The company also announced it feels Atlas is stable enough to issue a “go-live license” that lets developers put their Atlas applications into production.

Chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates kicked off the week-long event by sketching out for attendees a vision of how developers can use Web technologies to create what he refers to as “the programmable Web.”

The term “Web 2.0” is also often used to describe the ability to use programmable Web sites as components in larger, seamless applications. Combining several Web pages, or parts of them, on a single page using program code is called a “mash-up,” a capability that Atlas aims to enable.

Gates also said that the company already has the next two versions of IE in work, though he didn’t divulge anything further, except to say that future IE revs will be much more frequent than in the past.

“We are very immersed in this idea of the browser as a platform . . . . when we think of IE you'll see us be more explicit about the user interface portion, which is the piece that will be revving very rapidly,” Gates told the crowd of about 1,700 attendees.

Besides AJAX, among the technologies Microsoft will tout this week are the Simple List Extensions (SLE) for RSS (Really Simple Syndication) information feeds, which will be supported in both IE7 and Vista. For instance, SLE could be used to enable third-party applications to take advantage of Outlook calendar information transmitted via RSS.

“When you think about RSS as the start of a programmable Web, as you expose APIs to your Web sites, amazing things can happen,” Gates added.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.