A couple more details of MSN's upcoming announcements of the various APIs we'll be opening up during PDC have come out. The write up with the best overview I've seen so far has been the article Microsoft Web plan takes aim at Google which states

Microsoft will detail its "Web platform" strategy at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles next week, company executives told CNET News.com
At the developers conference next week, Microsoft plans to publish the API to its MSN Search service, which can be used by developers through the Simple Object Access Protocol, or SOAP. The noncommercial license will let people produce 10,000 search results per day per Internet address, said Seth Demsey, group program manager for MSN Search. Microsoft will release an API for its desktop search as well.

Also next week, the company will announce a free commercial license to use a JavaScript "control" to display data from its Virtual Earth mapping service. The MSN Messenger group, meanwhile, will allow developers to write Windows applications that make use of the "Activity" window. This would allow a customer service representative, for example, to display customer information in a chat session.
Next Thursday, Microsoft executives will discuss a developer program for Start.com, an MSN incubator Web site that consolidates information from RSS feeds and other Web sites onto a single customizable page.

That's right, during the PDC we'll be announcing developer programs for four MSN properties; MSN Virtual Earth, MSN Messenger, Start.com and MSN Search. Unfortunately, MSN Spaces isn't on that list but this is mainly due to logistics reasons and not because we won't be opening it up to as a platform for developers.

Of course, there are more details from the horses mouth.

MSN Messenger
From Leah Pearlmann's post about the MSN Messenger Activity API we learn

The release of the API will be announced at the upcoming Microsoft PDC next week in LA. Along with this announcement will be another for a contest
Starting next week, you, yes you, can download the Activity API, build an Activity using the competition guidelines, and submit it. You Activity will be posted in the App Gallery where people around the globe can try it out and vote for it (which they will, because YOURS will be the best).

Activities will be judged based on creativity, usability, inclusion of MSN services/features and number of popular votes. Besides the most valuable reward – unlimited bragging rights— you can also win:

  • Alienware Area 51 laptop with armored case (grand prize)
  • Aurora Desktops (1st runner-up)
  • Oakley Thump sun glasses with built in MP3 player (2nd runner-up)

For more information, go to visit this forum or wait until September 12th and then go to http://www.worldsbestapp.com and http://msdn.microsoft.com/msn/messenger

I've been involved in the discussions on opening up different parts of our IM client and it's great to see some of these efforts begin to bear fruit. Once the contest is live, don't hesitate to post questions to the developer forum. I'll be watching as will several folks on the MSN Messenger team.

By the way, the MSN Messenger PM team is looking for someone with experience to drive their audio and video efforts. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then check out the job description and maybe even respond.

MSN Virtual Earth
The big news here was posted by Chandu Thota in his blog posting Virtual Earth APIs available for commercial use (and they are FREE!) where he wrote

Here is the good news folks: We are now offering the MSN Virtual Earth API for commercial applications free of charge to developers.  This APIs include the JavaScript map control and local search service (exposed via the What/Where search boxes on Virtual Earth site today). 

Here are some important notes about this release:

1. Maps are available in U.S. only and does not include any routing capabilities. In the future we will add European and Asian geographies. 
2. In order to use the API for commercial applications with no charge, your application must use the local search service on the map (the What/Where search boxes)
3. There is no SLA for Virtual Earth enabled applications until January 1, 2006.  Also, if you choose to use Virtual Earth in your production environment before the end of 2005, you must notify the MSN Virtual Earth team first in order to ensure capacity
4. MapPoint Web Service and Virtual Earth platform are not integrated (yet!)

 Now how does the future look like? On January 1, 2006, you will have two additional options to choose from to fit your commercial application needs:

1. You can use the Virtual Earth APIs for free as long as you use the What/Where search boxes on your map. This is also makes sense from a revenue stand point since you will have the opportunity to make money by placing advertisements on your site in a revenue sharing model (more details to be announced at a later date)
2. If you do not want to utilize the What/Where search boxes on your site or advertising, you can use the Virtual Earth API under your current MapPoint Web Service contract. In this scenario you will be charged for transactions through the Virtual Earth API. Note that this option comes with SLAs. 

There you have it - now you have what you are waiting for: the opportunity to integrate maps into your applications at free of cost (as long as you use the What/Where search boxes). I will be writing more about how to integrate maps and the What/Where search boxes into your web applications on this blog in my future posts. In the mean time, don't forget to check out ViaVirtualEarth to learn how to build applications using Virtual Earth Map control (and to win $1000!)

That's right, they have a developer contest going on as well. I'd hoped to have my article on building my Seattle Movie Finder page up by PDC to give folks a place to start when building their first mapping mash-up but I never got enough spare time at work. The article should be done by next week and should hopefully show up online the week after PDC.


Categories: MSN
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"MSN Web 2.0 Announcements at PDC" (Microsoft News Tracker) [Trackback]
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"Apparently MSN heard me!" (Magus' Random Babblings) [Trackback]
"MSN APIs" (Tiernans Comms Closet) [Trackback]
"Web 2.0 Weekly Wrap-up, 5-11 Sep 2005" (Read/Write Web) [Trackback]
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