Transcript of Sun Microsystems & Microsoft News Teleconference

  • Greg Papadopoulos, Chief Technology Officer, Sun Microsystems

  • Hank Vigil, Microsoft Senior Vice President, Consumer Strategy and Partnerships

  • Andrew Layman, Director of Distributed Systems Interoperability, Microsoft

  • John Shewchuck, Distributed Systems Architect, Microsoft

December 1, 2004

(Operator Direction.)

JIM DESLER: Thank you all for joining today’s call. We wanted to gather you today to update you on the progress and activities that Sun and Microsoft have been engaged in, in the past eight months, since our settlement and Technical Collaboration Agreement in April.

We have with us to walk through this Sun’s Chief Technology Officer Greg Papadopoulos. Greg will be joined here in Redmond by Andrew Layman, who’s Microsoft’s Director of Distributed Systems Interoperability, and remotely by Hank Vigil, who’s Microsoft’s [senior] vice president for Strategies and Partnerships. Also helping out in the Q & A from Microsoft will be John Shewchuck who is Microsoft’s Distributed Systems Architect.

There will be a transcript of today’s call posted at both company’s Web sites. You should also receive shortly via e-mail a one-page update progress report document that will also post to each company’s Web site later today.

This is an on-the-record session and we’ll take questions at the end of the statements and overview.

If you’d like to ask a question, the operator will provide you instructions in terms of how to do that.

With that said, I’m pleased to introduce Sun’s Chief Technology Officer Greg Papadopoulos. Greg?

GREG PAPADOPOULOS: Great, thank you much and good afternoon or evening to everyone and thank you for joining us.

What we really want to get accomplished here is it’s been eight months since we announced the agreement, which was I think really a milestone in the industry and for our customers here, and really a lot of stuff has been happening and we wanted to not be dark and to get an update and give you a sense of the progress there and outline some significant things that have already been accomplished.

I just want to sort of frame it that both of the companies view this as a long-term relationship and something that you should watch unfold over the years. It was actually considered as a 10-year agreement from the outset. But, again wanted to just share some things that we’ve accomplished so far.

One thing is that this wasn’t just a legal settlement, but actually a pretty unique agreement that lets us engage in a lot of long-term relationships that have quite a bit of mutual customer benefit.

Now, one thing for me that I have found really refreshing in this whole alliance has been the fact that the companies actually end up being more similar than different in terms of value of intellectual property, how we approach R & D, that we fundamentally believe that customer problems get solved by inventing things and building products.

We’ve gone to some great lengths to establish a broad intellectual property framework, including a Technical Collaboration Agreement that considers licensing of protocols in our company’s client and server product, operating systems for implementation in our products and we’re tracking these milestones through systematic reviews between sea-level executives, including Bill and myself, and are focusing first on sort of interoperability and joint technical issues.

So we have two immediate goals. First is that we’re working on Web service specifications. These really help future products out of the box be interoperable. Second, we are exploring sort of the basic common sense approaches that let the existing product set that we have work well together and give our customer the assurances that they work well together and take that problem off of their plate.

We really are working towards a world where, of course, both Sun and Microsoft products will coexist at our customers, but we’re going to ensure a unique level of interoperability between them and ensure that it stays that way. And that’s one reason why we’re really actually very happy with the level of cooperation that we’ve had so far on Web services protocols with Microsoft.

Again, the thing that really helped shape this and has put a lot of texture and form on the relationship is we’ve focused on the customer, we look at what their needs are. In fact, recently Bill Gates and I had an in-depth meeting with a number of our major customers and they really helped us understand the issues from their point of view and gave us a long list of things, actually a lot of consensus about the ordering of those. That included things like security, identity, Java and, of course, just better interoperability through agreement and Web services. That dialogue continues and it helps us focus on getting a priority straight relationship.

We also formed an advisory council of CTOs. We’re listening to their input and, again, getting and using that to prioritize what we’re doing.

So we’ll get into some more specifics of the initiatives that we’re working on but let me turn it over to Hank Vigil.

HANK VIGIL: Thanks, Greg. I’m actually in transit traveling today so I’m in a somewhat noisy location, and given that I’m just going to provide a few brief overview comments and then pass it to Andrew Layman, who’s been deeply involved in the work with Sun so far.

I don’t want to reiterate all the things that Greg said, I agree with all of them. We are actually quite pleased with the progress the companies have made so far in the early stages of this relationship.

The agreement we reached in April is important because it really represents a shift from some of the more highly charged competition of the past to what I would characterize as a more mature relationship between our two companies, as Greg said, focused on really making our customers’ lives easier because they do have both Sun and Microsoft products in their companies.

Clearly Microsoft and Sun will continue to compete robustly in the market, but we will also cooperate in important ways to the benefit of the joint customers and the broader industry at large.

The relationship between Microsoft and Sun will continue to grow and evolve, as Greg said. While it has been eight months, we have been surprised really by how easy it has been to kind of really converge our technical thinking in the sense that, as Greg said, our cultures are quite similar, and so I think that provides a lot of promise for future cooperation and collaboration, as well as a better understanding between our two companies about how to make our customers’ lives better.

Clearly making two great companies with strong cultures work together is a significant challenge, so our first priority is to create processes that help us communicate better and to discuss productivity with each other and our customers and to work through all the important technical issues, as Greg said, focused initially on Web services and some of the other areas.

So to discuss these issues I want to hand it over to Andrew as we move into the question and answer part of the call.

Let me pass it back to you, Greg.

GREG PAPADOPOULOS: And we’ll give it to Andrew I think.

ANDREW LAYMAN: Thanks, Hank.

I want to talk about the processes and how that’s really been important for helping to carry out the relationship between our customers and there are three important areas in which we’re putting some processes in place around our executives, our engineers and very importantly our customers.

With our executives the first thing is that we’ve really worked to make sure that we have good communication at all the levels of our company and having executive meetings and in-depth working sessions with our engineers and to have everybody meet with our customers; all three of these are critical elements of having our companies aligned.

So each company has dedicated relationship managers who meet weekly with their counterparts, resolve issues, our architects and technical teams meet together and there have been 15 executive meetings in the past five months and these include meetings between Greg and Bill Gates as well as Steve Ballmer and Scott McNealy.

Our engineers are also working closely together. Two dozen of our engineers meet face to face every month to discuss specific technical issues. These are things such as the Sun storage support for Windows Server, they work on how to optimize Windows and Sun’s AMD hardware for the best performance and we’re exploring ways to work more closely together on Web services and to work with our customers, our mutual customers with tools for managing their enterprise.

Now, the first way that we started working together was actually neither of those but was outreach we did together with our customers. And, as Greg mentioned, this customer work that we do together is super-important to motivating the alignment between our companies and this input is crucial to driving companies towards a settlement and it will continue to help shape the relationship and it will keep us on track over the course of the next five or ten years and it will be that, it will be the customer effect that will determine whether or not this collaboration is a success.

Now, Greg is going to outline some of the areas for you in which we are working together and where we’ve made some very real progress.

GREG PAPADOPOULOS: OK, thanks, Andrew.

So let me dig into a few areas here. This is certainly not the total of everything we’re working on; again, there’s actually a surprising amount of engagement between the companies. But at this point here are some areas that we’d like to outline in a little more detail.

Let me start with just the whole area of 64-bit computing. We’ve had a strategic relationship with AMD and Opteron and we see Microsoft and Windows compatibility as really a key element in what our customers are asking for from those platforms as well.

Essentially we want to ensure that our hardware platforms are supporting the major operating systems and platforms adopt those, both Solaris and Windows, and to really make sure that the Windows support us there, that we have been certified by the Windows hardware quality labs as Designed for Windows, we get to take advantage of the enhanced virus protection that’s in AMD’s Opteron that is used under [Windows] XP Service Pack 2. This really gives our customers options and they can run on the workstations, they can run their graphics-intensive workloads on Sun workstations either under Solaris or under Windows. Microsoft has also provided us with marketing support and promoting these workstations to Microsoft certified professionals.

Another example is we’ve done a lot of work in sort of the CAD/CAM and 3D graphics area. We just finished a spec ViewPerf benchmark, which is a 3D-graphics performance benchmark running Open GL applications and did that on a Sun Java workstation and that got a really good set of performance numbers out of that.

Another area of really important value to our customers in terms of systems interoperability, it’s not just the server side but critically storage and interoperable, heterogeneous environments, in network storage we’ve worked together on things like driver compatibility, making sure we support Microsoft’s Virtual Disk Service and Volume Copy Shadow Service, all this on our new storage 6920 storage arrays; again, making sure that we’re there, that the Microsoft APIs are not only supported but certified and so the 6920 we achieved a Designed for Windows-logo qualification, and again giving our customers that assurance that we’re playing well together and that they can depend upon this for provisioning things like SQL Server and Microsoft Exchange.

We’re also focusing again on the customer and what the customers have asked us to do. We’re getting a much more formalized business relationship that is customer-facing, specifically working with Microsoft to provide a seamless way that customers get to resolve technical issues between our products, how are issues handled, how are they escalated and ultimately resolved.

We’re also putting in a competency center in Redmond where there will be lots of shiny Sun equipment there that enables customers to come in and do real-world testing of their applications in these heterogeneous, interoperable environments.

We’ve made significant progress in greater interoperability with the products that we currently have as well on the software side. In the identity area we just got VeriTest certification for the Sun Java System Directory Server Enterprise Edition and our Java System Access Manager and Java System Identity Manager on top of Windows Server, and in addition to that we’re working hard right now to validate Access Manager and Identity Manager functionality for customers who are using Active Directory as the directory for user credentials. And again a lot of this stuff came out of our direct customer feedback that put identity at the top of the list of things that we should be working on.

And this is an area of a lot of engagement between our engineers. It’s a critical issue not just for what are the products that are out there today but really in helping people understand the future as well and this is an important area and it’s one that we will be updating for you in the first part of next year.

In other product areas we actually cooperated on the release of [Windows] XP Service Pack 2 that the Java runtime environment and Star Office productivity suite run well together and again it was actually excellent engineering cooperation between those teams.

So I’d like to turn it back over to Andrew, who will give you a few more areas of additional cooperation.

ANDREW LAYMAN: Thanks, Greg.

So I’m going to talk about a few of the other areas that we’ve cooperated well on. One of the really important ones is Web services and one of the things when we talk to customers that our customers put pretty close to the top of the list of what they wanted us to work on together was getting the interoperability right between our products. And as you know, Web services is the way that both of our companies are looking to make this the future architecture for having our products interoperate. So it’s going to be very essential to how we do the do the interoperability, and we find that Microsoft and Sun have a lot of commonality in how we think about this space.

You know, if you look back, in the past eight months, we’ve done a considerable amount of work here, starting with that there’s a specification that we both co-authored, and co-submitted to the World Wide Web Consortium, the WS Addressing Specification, and that’s a pretty basic and fundamental specification that describes how you can address messages so that they get from a service running on any computer to a service running on another computer. And at that level it’s very clear to see how that’s fundamental to tying products running on our computers together.

We’ve also worked together on WS Eventing, which is an important part of having asynchronous systems work well together. WS Metadata Exchange, I can explain that more in the question period, if you want. And, of course, another thing that’s super important to our customers is that our systems be highly manageable. So, we have an initiative we call DSI, Sun has a very forward-looking initiative called N1. We’re looking to have a specification called WS Management be supported in order to enable these systems to be talked to in a common way. And these both are on track. They’re on track to go through a development, and a testing, and a standardization process.

There’s a lot more work to be done, but as you can see across the gamut of Web services, we’ve found a lot of common interests. Our interests go into some other areas as well. Java is pretty important to our customers, and as you know Microsoft is not going to be issuing new versions of the Java Virtual Machine. That product is stable right now for users who require Java, Microsoft provides a rather, Sun provides a JVM that runs well on Windows, and we think that that’s a great choice for customers. And we work well with Sun, we’re working closely with Sun to make sure that Sun’s products this is as we work with all of our vendors, we’re working hard with Sun to make sure that the Sun JVM works really well on Microsoft platforms.

Now, another area is identity. When we talk to our customers, probably the No. 1 item that customers said they wanted to be sure that our two companies worked closely on was on the identity space. And so, we’ve thought about this, and we agree that browser authentication is an area where we could probably do some great work jointly. There’s concern among our customers, a relationship between Web services and the Liberty efforts, and we’ve identified browser authentication as an area where we think that we can probably do some great joint work. We don’t have something to announce right now, but you should read this as, we get the message, both of us, and we know it’s really important, and we’re actively at work thinking out how we can solve that.

So, this is a list, a long list of areas where our two companies are lined up well with each other, and have a lot of discussion going on, and where we’ve achieved some concrete results, particularly in the Web services area, and where we’re developing a lot more results. As I look back over the last eight months, and contrast it with almost anything proceeding, I feel really good about this relationship. And I think up and down our companies, we both feel very good about the relationship.

JIM DESLER: With that, we’ll take any questions. Operator, can we have the first question, please.

(Operator Direction.)

QUESTION: Hi, I’m with You talked about some of the joint Web services work you’re doing together. But I guess just sort of more generally, when you talk about interoperability, are you as a company trying to do some sort of products interoperability that goes beyond what’s already in standards? Because, I mean, a lot of products already support standards, so how is this going to sort of set Sun and Microsoft’s interoperability apart from someone else’s?

GREG PAPADOPOULOS: I think there are two sides to that from our perspective, and I think we’re going to keep these areas distinct. There are how are our product stacks, which is the Windows Stack and .NET, what are the interoperability and touch points over to the Java Enterprise Server and Solaris. And then there are things like management across N1 and DSI, a lot of that involves sort of agreeing on a number of the details, the certification across the platforms, and there’s a lot of activity looking at those product, product interoperability things, and those are definitely going to be sort of unique values between the two stacks.

At the same time, it’s really important in this world that you do work towards common standards. And what is different here, Martin, is that we’re actually joining together and doing architecture on those pivotal parts of the stack that we think really do need to be in common and agree upon. And we’ve elucidated some of these here. It’s more than just saying we’re going to go do them. We’re actually actively working with each other to figure out what they look like and how they evolve, and as we said and mentioned in areas like identity, that’s real invention that’s taking place.

Do you want to add to that, Andrew?

ANDREW LAYMAN: Yes. I completely agree with everything Greg said. What I think we’re finding is that our two companies, once we put a few of the particular differences aside, and have found it a lot easier to talk to each other, we find that we’re both very engineering-driven companies, and we’re both very customer-driven companies. So, we find that there’s actually a lot of superficial differences, there can be a lot of commonality. And, particularly in the area of standards, yes, there are a lot of standards out there, and there are a lot of those standards that are implemented by our companies, but what I think you’re seeing a change in is that at this point we’ve found it a lot easier for both of our companies to work together to figure out what those standards should be, to work together in designing them in a way that works pretty well for both of us, and considering that we come from historically some fairly different parts of the industry, I think that’s a pretty signal accomplishment at being able to throw a bridge over some different parts of the industry.

I think you can also expect us probably being able to concentrate our efforts in a way that leads to faster implementations of some of these, and the net effect will be, since we will not only implement standards, but also roughly the same ones, that the practical result will be a much greater degree of product level interoperability.

(Operator Direction.)

QUESTION: Yes. I’m with Andrew, thanks for holding this call in the first place. I know we’ve been kind of asking for it for some time.

Going over the short laundry list that you guys have been sort of announcing, or sort of revealing today, I should say, the support for AMD seems to be a nice common ground for you guys. Can you speak more to that?

GREG PAPADOPOULOS: Sure. I mean, you know Sun’s relationship with AMD and Opteron. We just see, certainly from Sun, where we’ve been in 64-bit with Solaris for almost a decade now, that the development of much broader 64-bit platforms to us is a real important event in the industry. And that also opens up the possibility that you want to look at the combinations of which operating system on which platform. So the AMD side is, in fact, a point of real commonality. I know that Microsoft as well has been supporters of that product in their software strategy, and I think it’s at the common good to the industry.

If we look at it from our perspective, we’ve got, from our point of view, the three major operating systems running on it, Solaris, Windows and Red Hat. And getting to our customers the sort of veracity of that interaction is really important.

QUESTION: Andrew, do you have anything to add to that?

ANDREW LAYMAN: I think that from Microsoft, 64-bit software is clearly very important to where we’re going with our platform, and having an increased range of vendors who are building very powerful systems that depend on 64-bit, you know, and are able to package these up and sell them to customers and that have a lot of performance behind them, I think this is a great validation that we’re on the right track.

GREG PAPADOPOULOS: And I would just add one other thing, you know in the enterprise environment that we’re most focused in here that customers really will have mixed environments that have Windows and have Solaris, and our intendent stacks on top of them. What we get to do with our Opteron Server products is actually offer our customers a unified platform that allows them to repurpose equipment across those software stacks. And if you combine that with what we’re doing in things like WS Management, and potential for N1 and DSI interaction fit, it really provides a much more interesting and easier to manage fabric for the customer, and that’s the thing that we’re focusing on.

QUESTION: And I’m hearing you say that the Service Pack 2 was a sort of a more critical issue to get things in the right direction?

GREG PAPADOPOULOS: Well, that’s another point of engagement. That’s not directly having to deal with AMD. But, you know, actually working for both our Java Runtime System and StarOffice runs under Service Pack 2 were points of engagement. I will tell you that it was surprising in a very refreshing way about how the down in the details of our Java engineers talking to the XP kernel engineers, and really getting that dialogue going to get the support on Service Pack 2, which was really kind of impressive. And people are continuing to work together. So, we built those relationships and have good communication between those groups.

(Operator Direction.)

QUESTION: Hello, with the Wall Street Journal. Could you guys talk, maybe Greg, what in the authentication area, what customers cannot easily do now, and what they would like to do in terms of single sign-on or whatever it is, and do you think you will actually be able to reach agreement to do everything they would ultimately like to do?

GREG PAPADOPOULOS: Don, that’s a really good question. That’s actually one that we talk about a lot, and work on a lot. And, let me actually let someone else who is in the room here, John Shewchuck, who is one of the lead architects of .NET for Microsoft, kind of chime in on that.

JOHN SHEWCHUCK: Hi, so today, as you’re probably all aware, there are two major stacks, software stacks around Web services, there’s the Liberty technologies, and there are the technologies around WS Star, the federation and security protocols. One of the things that we’ve heard time and time again from our customers is that they would like to be able to build systems that can work in either direction. So, for example, if we had Microsoft products and Sun products they would like those identity products to interoperate. And our engineers and folks from Sun have been working for quite a while now to work through the details of how we’re going to make that happen. We don’t have anything to announce today, and we expect to have more announcements on this next year, but we are making very solid progress toward making that happen.

HANK VIGIL: If you wanted it from a customer-use case point of view, it’s that I could log into a lot of people come to us and say, I want one log in, and I don’t care whether I’m logging into a Microsoft-based service, or a Sun-based service, I should log into one of them and essentially let them negotiate the credentials of who I am and what I’m allowed to do behind the scenes. You get that kind of desire out of customers, and those kinds of scenarios certainly drive the thinking that we have.

QUESTION: Is there any probability that you won’t reach agreements, actually make that happen? Is there any besides technical issues, are there any business issues standing in the way of doing everything they want you to do?

HANK VIGIL: We don’t see anything in the way right now. What we really want to make sure is that the stuff really does work, and we can demonstrate it and get it right. I don’t see anything that is on my radar in the way of that. Part of the whole reason for this call, Don, is to let these things take time. The thing that you should be suspicious of is if we were to announce right now, we’ve got this all solved, and it’s all working. That means we probably didn’t work on the really hard problems. At the same time we’re really confident about it.

(Operator direction.)

QUESTION: The things you announced today seem, it’s helpful they’re out there, fairly concrete items, working on AMD, or making sure the drivers are there for the storage system, things like that. But, they generally seem fairly mild in scope. I’m wondering, looking out into the next 10 years, should we expect more things of this scale, in this sort of modest scope, or are we going to see a grander level of cooperation and collaboration. Are these just sort of little point items, are we going to see something much bigger down the road?

ANDREW LAYMAN: This is Andrew. I think you’re asking, is this all we will ever see, things at a modest level of scope, or will we see some grand things, as well? I think that what’s going to happen is, obviously, in order to deliver the kind of products that our customers want to be interoperable we’re going to have to do both. We’re going to have to do a lot of the modest work, and we’re going to have to do some significant work. And I think that you’ve already seen the basics of some of the significant work that we’re doing. If you think back nine months ago, there was not a whole lot of visible cooperation across the press of what we were doing on Web services, and yet Web services is the technology that is clearly and obviously designed in order to be able to bring the similar systems together in an interoperable way.

I think our customers were feeling pretty uncomfortable that there was this very promising technology, but that it hadn’t coalesced in a way that was going to they might have Microsoft products, they might have Sun products in their enterprise, and this tantalizing technology would just be outside their grasp. And I think what’s happened now is you’ve seen our two companies work together across a pretty wide gamut. There’s what we were talking about earlier, the WS addressing specification. That’s a very basic and fundamental specification. There is another specification that is a little bit higher up in the technology stack. I don’t know if that makes it more or less important, but eventing, which is a pattern of how we can build asynchronous systems, well now having Sun and Microsoft agreeing on how to build and connect and wire together asynchronous systems, this is some pretty fundamental plumbing. And I think it lays a great groundwork that we’re going to do things to build on.

HANK VIGIL: This is Hank, I don’t know if you guys can hear me, but I just wanted to add a couple of comments. One is, it’s sort of all relative, I guess I disagree a bit with the characterization of it being modest, in the sense that if you think about the history between Sun and Microsoft, it was quite a contentious history where our ability to even talk to each other was not at all clear. I think that the eight months has proven not only are we crawling well, but we’re learning how to walk, and some day we expect to run together. As I said in the beginning, I don’t think that means we’re not going to compete vigorously.

On the other hand, I think we are discovering that we have a common approach, that the characteristic of modesty I think to some extent discounts the true level of engineering engagement and commonality, which as everyone knows who knows engineers, and as Greg says, these things take time, but we’re making good progress. So you can expect to see the fruits of this collaboration of the future get announced with frequency, and we expect them to be actually extremely valuable to our joint customer set.

QUESTION: So when you say some day you’re going to run, what kinds of scale of announcements, or what kinds of scale of products are we going to see when you’re at the running stage? I agree, working out Web services specifications in advance, that’s certainly significant toward interoperability, but I’ve seen a lot of consortia over the years, and setting standards is hardly

HANK VIGIL: I think Sun and Microsoft products are going to be the two best choices a customer could have, and working together in their heterogeneous environments going forward.

QUESTION: I guess my point is on Web services, I’ve seen a lot of Web services bodies, I certainly agree it’s monumental that Sun and Microsoft are working together, but I’ve seen standards groups, many of them over the years, actually, where you have competitors cooperating. So I’m just trying to get a feel for what the future holds.

GREG PAPADOPOULOS: Okay. So really, Steven, it’s a great question, and there are two things here. Let’s talk about what this call is about. In some sense it is to really give you a feeling that there is a lot of energy in the relationship. Some of the things that you saw as sort of tactical, or blocking and tackling in here are in fact evidence that there are good operating processes. I think as a relationship goes, this is a 180-degree U-turn, that 9 months ago we were slashing each other’s tires, now we’re helping each other fix each other’s flats. We’re going to go race down the road, and compete with each other, but the trust that’s getting built up to do it.

The other part is, there are lots of standards engagements that people do, but I wouldn’t be involved at this level, Gates wouldn’t be involved at this level for things that we just thought were standards activities. There is some real tangible stuff that our customers have told us to go solve, and we’ve given you the example around identity, and those are things that we are working on. So if you want to sort of set the expectation, or how you should be tuning yourself up for whether this is successful or some other outcome, is are we solving those hard problems for our customers, and what is that going to look like.

Again, those things do take time. But, the fact that we’re sitting here working, as you said, was monumental, working on web service standards together, that has been an enormous accomplishment.

ANDREW LAYMAN: We’re going to get product interoperability in a lot of different parts of our product line. I think that’s one of the things that you should take out of this phone call. Then another thing that you should take out of it is that the way that we’re going to do that is in many cases going to be by building very open protocols, which are not just how Sun and Microsoft do it, but a way that both of our systems can connect to each other and to systems from other companies. And we are going to invest the time and the effort to work between ourselves, and with other companies, hopefully the result of that will be that these things will be recognized as being worthy of being standards.

(Operator direction.)

QUESTION: Okay. I wanted to ask, has the subject of Passport and Liberty Alliance, has any of that come up in the deliberations between Microsoft and Sun?

GREG PAPADOPOULOS: Yes, the subject has come up.

GREG PAPADOPOULOS: Those are things that are evidence of stuff that has failed to interoperate in the past, those have been separate independent efforts to do identity frameworks for the Web.

QUESTION: So there has been a rapprochement of sorts on Passport and Liberty, or what’s

GREG PAPADOPOULOS: I think it is as I said, it’s representative of things that are at the top when our customers go prioritizing they give us evidence, when they say, we mean identity and authentication, one of the things they point to is, look there’s a difference between the approaches to, say, Liberty takes an approach, and what Microsoft has taken as an approach, help resolve that.

JOHN SHEWCHUCK: It’s also worth understanding that Passport has undergone a fairly significant change in that we are moving Passport to a fully federated model based on the WS Star specifications. As we get interoperability between WS Star and the protocols that Sun uses, we anticipate the ability to have those systems work together better.

GREG PAPADOPOULOS: We expect Passport and Liberty to work better together.

JOHN SHEWCHUCK: WS Star in particular, and the Liberty protocols. Passport is the MSN log-in system.

GREG PAPADOPOULOS: I think the contrast…don’t think of Passport and Liberty as being the contrast, think of, there have been some protocols that Microsoft and some of the other companies we’ve worked with developed on top of the more basic web service protocols, one of these was called WS Federation, and parallel with that, Sun and some companies that Sun has worked with have developed some other protocols. These are a little bit different, just in the technical details. But, both of them address the problem of how to do browser authentication. What you’re hearing today is that both of us are in agreement that we need to do some work to create interoperability between those systems that were developed independently.

ANDREW LAYMAN: I think you should also hear that this is a very closely watched space, and so I think we’re both being very cautious, since that when we do have something to announce here it’s going to get looked at with a lot of interest. We want to make sure that it lives up to the expectations.

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