NYT writes about Web Services:
Web services standards — developed by industry and academic computer scientists — seek to enable machine-to-machine communication, allowing corporate and personal databases to transport information seamlessly. The goal is a new level of computer-mediated automation in business and personal transactions, promising big gains in productivity and convenience.
The race to deliver Web services will shape competition in the computer business over the next several years. And there are broadly two paths: Microsoft on one side and a handful of major software competitors on the other side, including I.B.M., BEA Systems, Sun Microsystems and Oracle.
While the Microsoft approach links Web services technology closely to its operating system, the other camp is putting the technology in a layer of software separate from the operating system, called middleware. That lets it run on a variety of operating systems.
Adds Dave Winer:
Web Services are technology for gluing desktop applications to each other and to centralized servers over the Internet. It’s the next layer on the Web, a little higher level than XML and HTTP (on which it builds). To see the furthest development of Web Services look no further than the weblog world, where new tools are being created in just this model, actually for quite a few years.