The following is taken from the article "Hailstorm: Open Web Services Controlled by Microsoft" at OpenP2P.com:
HailStorm, which launched in March with a public announcement and a white paper, is Microsoft's bid to put some meat on the bones of its .NET initiative. It is a set of Web services whose data is contained in a set of XML documents, and which is accessed from the various clients (or "HailStorm endpoints") via SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol.) These services are organized around user identity, and will include standard functions such as myAddress (electronic and geographic address for an identity); myProfile, (name, nickname, special dates, picture); myCalendar, myWallet; and so on.
HailStorm can best be thought of as an attempt to re-visit the original MS-DOS strategy: Microsoft writes and owns the basic framework, and third-party developers write applications to run on top of that framework.
Three critical things differentiate the networked version of this strategy, as exemplified by HailStorm, from the earlier MS-DOS strategy:
- First, the Internet has gone mainstream. This means that Microsoft can exploit both looser and tighter coupling within HailStorm -- looser in that applications can have different parts existing on different clients and servers anywhere in the world; tighter because all software can phone home to Microsoft to authenticate users and transactions in real time.
- Second, Microsoft has come to the conclusion that its monopoly on PC operating systems is not going to be quickly transferable to other kinds of devices (such as PDAs and servers); for the next few years at least, any truly ubiquitous software will have to run on non-MS devices. This conclusion is reflected in HailStorm's embrace of SOAP and XML, allowing HailStorm to be accessed from any minimally connected device.
- Third, the world has shifted from "software as product" to "software as service," where software can be accessed remotely and paid for in per-use or per-time-period licenses. HailStorm asks both developers and users to pay for access to HailStorm, though the nature and size of these fees are far from worked out.