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Microsoft announced Wednesday that the first Community Technology Preview of its next-generation communications subsystem is now available.

Microsoft Corp. released the bits to the upcoming subsystem, known by its code name Indigo, to MDSN (Microsoft Developer Network) subscribers at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time, said Ari Bixhorn, Microsoft’s lead product manager for Web services strategy.

Indigo is described as a new service-oriented communications infrastructure built on top of Web services protocols.

With the release of the CTP bits Wednesday, Microsoft beat a schedule that had some, even internally, wondering if the company would get the early version of the technology out on time.

At the VSLive conference in San Francisco last month, the Microsoft senior vice president of server and tools joked that Microsoft would deliver the Indigo CTP in March, even if it meant “March 38th or 43rd.” However, the CTP was expected to release on March 31.

Bixhorn said the advanced Web services support in Indigo provides interoperable secure, reliable and transacted messaging, which were the top three issues developers cited after Microsoft whetted their appetites for Indigo at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles in 2003 and subsequently.

Click here to read more details about Microsoft’s plans for Indigo.

Microsoft officials said the Indigo infrastructure simplifies development through a service-oriented programming model where programs are composed using asynchronous message passing. To enable this programming model, Indigo provides a set of technologies for creating, consuming, processing and transmitting messages.

Indigo represents a unified programming model for building applications that support the broad array of Web services standards, which Microsoft refers to as the WS-* specifications. Indigo combines features of ASMX (ASP.Net Web Services), .Net Remoting, .Net Enterprise Services, WSE (Web Services Enhancements) and System.Messaging, the company said.

In addition to the Indigo CTP, Microsoft also Wednesday released the second CTP for its next-generation presentation subsystem, known as “Avalon,” Bixhorn said. Microsoft is including an SDK (Software Developers Kit) that features tools and documentation. And developers also will get the latest release of the .Net Framework 2.0 as part of the content made available on MSDN, Bixhorn said.

Read more here about the history of Avalon.

“This is the first time developers will see all the features we will ship in Beta One” of Indigo, Bixhorn said.

Microsoft is slated to release Beta One of Indigo in the first half of this year, “and we’re still on track to RTM [release to manufacturing] in 2006. And we’ll be doing a Beta Two between now and then,” Bixhorn said.

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