“HailStorm” on the Horizon

REDMOND, Wash., March 19, 2001 — Though consumers and businesses have found enormous value in technology for personal empowerment and business productivity and efficiency, there is still room for improvement. Currently, users have a variety of different applications, devices, services they use daily but those technologies dont work seamlessly with one another, and they require users to adapt to each technology rather than having the technology adapt to them or work together on the users behalf.

Microsoft today announced a set of enabling services — codenamed “HailStorm” — which are intended to advance the Microsoft .NET strategy and will enable developers to build user-centric XML Web services that offer a new level of personalization for both consumers and business users. Microsoft showcasedfive major partners , including American Express, ClickCommerce, eBay, Expedia and Groove, who showed prototypes and conceptual demos.

“HailStorm is a key milestone to deliver on the Microsoft mission to empower people through great software, any time, any place and on any device,”
said Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect.
“We believe this innovation will take individual empowerment to a new level, create unprecedented opportunity for the industry and trigger a renewed wave of excitement.”

“HailStorm” is designed to place individuals at the center of their computing experience and take control over the technology in their lives and better protect the privacy of their personal information. “HailStorm” services will allow unprecedented collaboration and integration between the users’ devices, their software and their personal data. With “HailStorm”, users will have even greater and more specific control over what people, businesses and technologies have access to their personal information.

“HailStorm” technologies help simplify the way people use technology. Instead of concentrating around a specific device, application, service or network, “HailStorm” services are oriented around people. They give users control of their own data and information, protecting personal information and requiring the consent of the individual with respect to who can access the information, what they can do with it and how long they have that permission to do so.

Sharing and Collaboration

At the heart of “HailStorms” architecture is a version of Microsoft’s popular Passport authentication technology — enabling easy access to favorite sites and the orchestration of applications and services to cooperate on behalf of the individual, as well as allowing users and groups to easily collaborate and share information.

For instance, a task such as booking a flight using an online travel reservation service will become much more effective. “HailStorm” will help enable the travel service to automatically access the individual’s preferences and payment information. If traveling on business, a users affiliation with their company’s “HailStorm” group identity makes it possible for the travel service to automatically show only the choices that meet the traveler’s individual preferences and which adhere to the companys travel policies. Once the user has chosen a flight, the travel service can use “HailStorm” — with the traveler’s permission — to automatically schedule the itinerary onto the specific calendaring service he or she uses. Through “HailStorm”, live flight itinerary information can be shared with whomever the traveler designates, and can also be accessed through a PC, someone elses PC, a smart phone, a PDA or any other connected device.

Any solution using “HailStorm” can take advantage of how the core “HailStorm” services enable management of basic elements of a users digital experience — such as calendar, location and profile information, saving the user from re-entry or redundancy and saving developers from having to create their own separate systems for these basic capabilities.

The HailStorm architecture is designed for seamless extensibility and consistency across services. It provides common identity, messaging, naming, navigation, security, role-mapping, data modeling, metering and error handling across all “HailStorm” services. And rather than risk compromising the user-centric model by having advertisers pay for them, the people receiving the value — end users — will be the primary source of revenue. “HailStorm” will help move the Internet to end-user subscriptions, in which users pay for value received.

Open Access, Privacy and Security

“Today’s briefing and demonstrations are about drilling down — for the first time publicly — into the technology that we believe will play a key role in the future delivery of rich .NET services that places the individual at the center of the technology in their life,” said Bob Muglia, Microsoft group vice president of the .NET Services Group. “We believe developers will derive great value in building services that offer customers the ability to automatically log onto their favorite Web sites and receive timely and relevant notifications and alerts any time, any place and on any device. And we believe this is just the beginning.”

Developers will be able to build applications and services that take advantage of “HailStorm” to provide the best possible experience. The “HailStorm” platform uses an open access model — which means it can be used with any device, service or application with an Internet connection, regardless of the underlying platform, operating system, object model, programming language or network provider (i.e., Windows, Macintosh, UNIX, Palm OS, Windows CE, etc).

All “HailStorm” services are XML Web services, which are based on open industry standards; no Microsoft runtime or tool will be required to use them. Although naturally, the .NET infrastructure provided by Visual Studio.NET, the .NET Framework and the .NET Enterprise Servers will fully incorporate support for “HailStorm” to make it as simple as possible for developers to use “HailStorm” services in their applications.

“By taking advantage of Microsoft .NET technology, we can open up the eBay API to an even larger community of developers,” said Meg Whitman, President and CEO of eBay Inc. “We think this will be a big boost for our API and help eBays business spread further and faster on the Web.”

Microsoft is committed to protecting privacy and to developing technology that provides the most powerful and secure online experience. Like all other Microsoft Web services, the “HailStorm” privacy model requires compliance with existing privacy legislation and will follow the Code of Fair Information Practices that forms the basis of many consumer privacy programs, including those of the Online Privacy Alliance, TRUSTe and BBBOnLine.

“Hailstorm turns the industry debate over online privacy on its head,”
said Bob Muglia.

It starts with the fundamental assumption that the user owns and controls their personal information and is empowered to decide who gets to decide with whom they share any of their information and under what terms.