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Last modified: April 01, 1998
Microsoft Support for XML

Microsoft maintains a Web site providing information about its ongoing support for the Extensible Markup Language (XML), characterized as 'the universal format for data on the Web.' Other references relevant to Microsoft's XML support may be found in the document "Extensible Markup Language - Industry Support."

[March 31, 1999] "Microsoft Delivers Industry's First XML-Compliant Browser Comprehensive XML Support Enables Developers to Build New Generation Of Data-Driven Applications." - Microsoft Corp. today announced that Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 is the first commercially available browser software to support the Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0 recommendation developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). XML provides a universal language for data interchange and powers a new generation of data-driven applications such as consumer and business-to-business electronic commerce, enterprise application integration and interoperability across disparate systems, data sources and business processes. Complete XML support in the Microsoft Windows operating system lets developers focus on building great applications, as opposed to spending time implementing their own XML infrastructure. Internet Explorer 5 is the only shipping browser with complete support for XML 1.0. Further, Internet Explorer is the first and only shipping browser to support a wide variety of other XML technologies, including a subset of the Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL) W3C working draft, the XML Document Object Model (DOM), the XML Namespaces 1.0 Recommendation and a technology preview for advanced XML schemas. By making these technologies an integral part of the Windows operating system, developers and end users can count on widely available, consistent and complete support for XML. Further, this implementation makes XML easily accessible to developers, regardless of their programming language choice." [local archive copy]

On November 4, 1998, Microsoft announced the availability of a beta version of Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 for technical evaluation. This release of the Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 beta was "designed to give IT managers and PC enthusiasts an opportunity to evaluate the technology, provide feedback and become familiar with the technologies early in the development process." This release is said to have "improved support for key standards, including the Document Object Model (DOM), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and Extensible Markup Language (XML). The beta version 'supports direct browsing of XML source files using XSL or cascading style sheets, just as users can browse HTML documents. For example, users can add XML files to their Favorites folder and can inspect XML files in the History list. XML file authors specify the CSS or XSL style sheet to be used for displaying the XML file by using the notation described in the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) note. The beta version supports the transformation part of the W3C XSL specification, and may be used for direct browsing of XML files and from the XML DOM. The IE 5 beta also includes an "XML Schema and Data Types Preview" - 'this release of XML Schema with data type support as a technology preview that may be useful for developers interested in building prototypes and gaining experience with schema and rich data types. XML Schema as implemented in this technology preview can be thought of as the subset of the XML-Data submission that corresponds to the feature set proposed for Document Content Description (DCD). Unlike the unique document type definition (DTD) syntax, XML Schema allows you to define the rules governing the relations between elements and attributes using a standard XML instance syntax, which can be parsed and managed using XML applications. . . XML Schema also adds support for namespaces, data types, and such useful features as range constraints. Namespace support is integrated into native browsing of XML files, XSL, and the XML DOM programming interfaces."

A press release of October 13, 1998 clarified Microsoft's plans for XML support in the MS Windows operating system and in Microsoft Internet Explorer 5. 'XML 1.0, XSL, XML DOM, and XML Namespaces'. Support features as announced include: "Direct viewing of XML; High-performance, validating XML engine; Extensible Style Language (XSL) support; XML Schemas; Server-side XML; XML document object model (DOM)." See "Microsoft to Deliver Advanced XML Support. Windows to Include Industry's Most Complete Implementation of XML and XSL." - "At its Professional Developers Conference today, Microsoft Corp. demonstrated the latest Extensible Markup Language (XML) technologies it will add to Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 and the Windows operating system, including XML 1.0, XSL, XML DOM and XML Namespaces. With these new technologies, Microsoft becomes the first major software vendor whose browser incorporates support for many of the latest XML specifications coming out of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Now, the integration of these XML technologies into the Windows platform promises to make designing multitier applications for heterogeneous information systems faster and easier than ever." [canonical copy of announcement]

[September 09, 1998] "XML Support in Internet Explorer." By David Turner (Microsoft). Presented at the XML Developers' Conference, August 1998. The presentation slides are available online.

[September 12, 1998] "Will IE 5.0 Get Native XML Support?" By Jeff Walsh. In InfoWorld (September 11, 1998). "The battle between Microsoft and the rest of the industry over how to render HTML data in Web browsers is now being extended to the Extensible Markup Language (XML). According to Microsoft officials, there are three ways to display XML in browsers: as XML data islands in the HTML page, XML intermixed with HTML, and stand-alone XML documents. At present, Microsoft has committed to the first two implementations in Internet Explorer 5.0, but it still has not said whether stand-alone XML will be supported -- causing some concern among developers. Netscape has already committed to displaying native XML documents in Navigator and Communicator 5.0 browsers."

[August 20, 1998] "DataChannel and Microsoft Co-Develop Enhanced Version of Leading XML Technology for Java. Brings the Power of XML to Java Developers." - "... have collaborated to deliver XML technology, specifically, an enhanced XML parser written in the Java language. . ." [DataChannel source or the local archive copy]

[June 12, 1998] Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 supports XML metadata constructs, while Internet Explorer 5.0 is announced as having additional levels of support for XML. "XML is supported in two ways in Internet Explorer 5.0: XML can be embedded in the document as data or meta-data. In this form, the XML is contained within an <XML> tag or a <script language="XML"> tag. The full XML document object model (DOM) is then exposed on that element, but the elements inside the XML tag are not rendered on the page, and are not included in the HTML DOM. This is a natural extension of the XML support in Internet Explorer 4.0, which introduced the XML Data Source Object. XML can be used as additional presentation markup. In this way, XML tags can be intermixed in the HTML document stream. CSS properties can be directly applied to these elements to control their display." Details:

  • namespaces: "To declare an XML namespace use an <XML:NAMESPACE> tag in the head of the document: <XML:NAMESPACE NS="http://myurl" PREFIX="MYTAGS"/>. - This means that the MYTAGS namespace in XML is now declared for use in the document. [. . .] The XML tags can have CSS applied to them, and [thus one can] apply a default behavior to any new XML tag."
  • XML-based 'persistent storage': User Data Persistence, Save History, Save Favorites, where "the data storage is based on XML. This is important, because XML provides the ability to save data hierarchically (i.e., in a tree). So you can now save the history of links visited, for example, with correct hierarchical context"
  • scriplets: "Scriptlets are based on XML and script, and are general-purpose components, useful anywhere COM components are. Initially [IE 4.0] called server scriptlets (they were aimed at the server), scriptlets are components written in Extensible Markup Language (XML) and script. XML is used to define the object, methods, properties, etc., and script to provide the functionality. Once the initial development began on these new scriptlets, it became clear that they are not just useful on the server but also on the client. As a result, Internet Explorer 5.0 Developer Preview release covers the needs not only of ASP/server developers, but also of client developers." The <scriptlet> elements contain a <registration> element to register the scriptlet as a COM component, an <implements> element to specify the COM interface hanbdler for the scriptlet, and a <script> element to implement the logic of the scriptlet.

Links [as of November 06, 1998 'XML Support in IE 5 Beta']:

Links [as of October 15, 1998]:

  • Microsoft's XML Web Site - Contents

  • XML Overview - XML: Enabling Next-Generation Web Applications

  • XML Resources

  • Extreme XML - XML Column from Charles Heinemann

  • "Microsoft's Vision for XML." By Adam Bosworth (General Manager, Microsoft Corporation).

  • Microsoft XML Tutorial

  • [October 15, 1998] "Microsoft Outlines XML Support in IE 5 Beta 2." By Tim Bray. (October 14, 1998). ". . . the big news is that the next beta supports direct display of XML documents. This is a big step forward from the last beta, which could only display XML "islands" in HTML documents. There is a bit of a soft spot as to how the XML support will work with the DOM. We assume that internally IE transforms the XML to HTML before displaying it (which is how the Mozilla betas have been doing it). The soft spot is whether a DOM programmer accessing an XML page actually sees the pre-transformation XML elements and attributes, or only the HTML version that actually gets output. This is a pretty serious soft spot. Since XML + CSS does not really have any serious display advantages compared to HTML + CSS, the main reason why you'd want to send XML to a browser is to run some code on it after it gets there. The best way to do this is through the DOM, so a browser that supports XML but not the DOM is kind of unexciting." Note similarly Frank Boumphrey's comment on 'MSIE5 Beta 2 + XML' posted to XML-DEV: "I am using a simple script and the DOM to transform XML to HTMLon the fly,and style it with a CSS style sheet. Details available privately if any one wants them...".

  • [October 14, 1998] "Microsoft Supports XML in IE 5.0." By Richard Karpinski. In InternetWeek (October 12, 1998) "In addition to improved XML parsing engines, IE 5.0 will support direct viewing of XML documents, using either XSL or Cascading Style Sheets. XSL will not only support document display, but querying capabilities for extracting data from XML data sets. . ."

  • [October 14, 1998] "Microsoft Gives XML a Big Bear Hug." By Dana Gardner. In InfoWorld (October 13, 1998) [Posted at 9:39 AM PT]. "Microsoft is easing more Extensible Markup Language (XML) and related technologies into its browser and operating systems and in some ways is betting its future on XML, the company announced here Tuesday at its Professional Developers Conference. A number of budding XML technologies -- including XML 1.0, Extensible Style Language (XSL), XML document object model (DOM), and XML Namespaces -- will find their way into the upcoming Internet Explorer 5.0 and future Windows versions, the company said."

  • [October 14, 1998] "Microsoft Continues XML Push." By Ben Heskett. In CNet [Intranets]. (October 13, 1998). "Microsoft is betting big on XML, a fact that may worry some and satisfy others who just want the emerging standard supported in Web technologies such as browsers so they can do more with the Web. At its annual developer's conference here, the company surprised no one by formalizing an ad hoc effort to build XML into appropriate software, a strategy largely dependent on the forthcoming Internet Explorer 5.0 upgrade, due by the end of the year, according to the company."

  • [October 14, 1998] "Microsoft Spells Out XML Support in Upcoming IE 5.0." By Antone Gonsalves. In PC Week [Online] (October 13, 1998). "Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday detailed the XML support it will provide in Beta 2 of Internet Explorer 5.0, which is scheduled for release by the end of the year. The browser upgrade will include support for core Extensible Markup Language standards defined by the World Wide Web Consortium as well as proposed standards for accessing and presenting data. . ." Support features include: "Direct viewing of XML; High-performance, validating XML engine; Extensible Style Language (XSL) support; XML Schemas; Server-side XML; XML document object model (DOM)." See the Microsoft press release for details.

  • [October 12, 1998] "XML Tools Take On Multimedia." By Richard Karpinski. In InternetWeek Issue 736 (October 12, 1998) [Intranet Applications]. "XML continues to fulfill its promise as a language for building languages, with the recent announcements of two XML-based applications for adding voice and multimedia functionality to Web applications. Motorola announced so-called voice browser technology based on the Extensible Markup Language. VoxML, or Voice Markup Language, provides users with voice-based access to Web content via either a voice browser - a browser that interprets voice the way Web browsers interpret HTML - or a standard telephone. Microsoft, meanwhile, said it has submitted another XML application, HTML+TIME, to the World Wide Web Consortium."

  • [October 20, 1998] "Microsoft Lays out its Own Strategy for XML." By Dana Gardner. In Volume 20, Issue 42 (October 19, 1998). ". . . Native XML support in future versions of Windows means that developers can draw on XML processing features to read and manipulate data as it moves between applications and components. In effect, XML becomes the glue that binds data and objects."

  • [June 1998] "Preview of XML Support in IE 5." By Tim Bray. From June 22, 1998.

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