Microsoft bolsters IIS

Microsoft will give IS managers a glimpse of its plans to link intranets to the rest of the enterprise when it unveils Internet Information Server 3.0 (IIS) next week.

Microsoft will give IS managers a glimpse of its plans to link intranets to the rest of the enterprise when it unveils Internet Information Server 3.0 (IIS) at its Site Builder Conference next week in San Jose, California. Key features of the upgrade will be support for Active Server pages, which can invoke either Visual Basic script or JavaScript code to create dynamic Web pages; support for a new version of Internet Studio, for building Active Server pages; and an ActiveX database object that links IIS 3.0 to a variety of SQL databases.

The ActiveX Data Object (ADO), a set of objects that runs on top of the ODBC interface, permits the manipulation of database-defined data types, including binary large objects such as .GIF and .JPG images, retrieved from databases and dynamically written into Web pages, according to sources. ADO will support links to Oracle databases, IBM's DB/2, Borland's dBase and Microsoft SQL Server database products.

"When you put all these things together, customers using Internet Studio from their desktops or the Internet can access data on mainframes and other client/server-level databases," says a source familiar with the company's plans." It will be a big deal for those putting intranets and the Internet together."

Active Server pages are based on the ActiveX scripting engine, which permits developers to include server-side executable scripts directly into HTML content. Consequently, files can be created with no compiling or linking of the programs and are extensible with ActiveX components.

Using these products in concert with each other can mean the difference between corporate developers' publishing content and providing interactive business applications, according to industry sources. For instance, it could mean the difference between simply publishing a human resources handbook and being able to offer interactive management of benefits. In the case of a real estate broker, it could mean the opportunity to offer interactive scheduling or the processing of mortgage applications, instead of just advertising properties for sale on the World Wide Web.

Microsoft is expected to highlight Internet Studio's database connectivity capabilities, which include integrated data view, database design-time ActiveX controls, database wizards, the Query Designer, and the Database Designer. The upcoming product will include Microsoft's FrontPage Web authoring tool as well. "There is some really nice drag-and-drop development stuff in this," says a source briefed by the company. "It will be good for users trying to get stuff off an Oracle or DB/2 database over the Internet."

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