MS previewing concepts in COM3

Rohit Khare (
Wed, 20 Aug 1997 01:52:01 -0400

[Note the promise at the end to support DCOM in Java. Universal VM is a
back-to-the-future return to MS's p-code systems of the 80s. --RK]

[Infoworld added:

"We want to make it easier to build COM objects in all languages," said
product manager Cornelius Willis. "We want to make sure COM objects can
take advantage of message queuing, security, and technologies like
Transaction Server. We hear sometimes that it's too much work to tie that
stuff in."


Willis noted that COM3 will not directly address CORBA interoperability.
Microsoft collaborated on, and supports, Hewlett-Packard's proposal to the
OMG for a COM-to-CORBA bridge.

"It's great to see the HP proposal," he said. "Of course, we want COM3 to
make CORBA irrelevant." ]

August 18, 1997 10:00 AM ET

Microsoft prepares major COM changes

By Michael Moeller, PC Week Online

Microsoft Corp. next month will unveil a significant addition to its
component architecture that could fundamentally shift the way Windows
applications are built.

Version 3 of COM (Component Object Model), which Microsoft will detail at
its Professional Developers Conference in San Diego, will extend the
current COM architecture with a run-time engine and services, according to

The run-time engine will enable applications to be dynamically constructed
from multiple components written in any language, including C++ and Java.
For instance, within COM, a JavaBean could call C++ and other components on
the fly to create an application.

Microsoft officials in Redmond, Wash., declined to comment.

COM provides the interfaces that allow application objects to communicate
with each other; it's the foundation of all Windows systems. COM3, while
not likely to show up in Windows 98, could find its way into Windows NT
5.0, which will make heavy use of components and object technologies,
sources said.

NT 5.0, due in mid-1998, is expected to begin its first beta tests at the

In addition to the run-time engine, Microsoft is looking at ways to add an
inheritance feature to COM3 that will enable a developer to recycle code
written in C or C++ and reuse it when creating components in Visual Basic
or Java, sources said. As a result, developers would be able to build
applications by mixing and matching components and code created in any

"This is going to enable me to more easily build applications by taking
efforts from earlier applications and refreshing them, or completely
changing them, without having to start from scratch," said a developer
familiar the COM3 plans who requested anonymity.

The run-time engine will provide a consistent "garbage collection" and
management system, which the current COM release lacks. Garbage collection,
one of the key features of Visual Basic and Java languages, enables an
application to monitor itself and recapture unused memory.

The COM3 run time will extend that functionality to C or C++ languages for
COM applications.

Using COM3, developers will be able to mix and match languages for
different needs.

For example, the C++ language is a staple in server applications, while
Java's forte is building components that can be accessed over the Internet.

Other run-time services likely to be part of COM3 include persistence
exception handling, context and call management, activation, and type
description. Sources also said Microsoft will expose all of its operating
system APIs and BackOffice APIs within COM3.

"This sounds a lot like the services that are part of a virtual machine
that is similar to Java," said Evan Quinn, director of Java research at
International Data Corp., in Mountain View, Calif. "If they are doing this,
it will signal the next shift in the platform wars."

DCOM on the Net

On a separate front, Microsoft is pushing DCOM (Distributed COM) forward to
work over the Internet. Officials said the company is working on enabling
DCOM to be encapsulated within an HTTP message. A wrapper mechanism would
provide a way for DCOM messages to flow outside firewalls, which currently
do not support DCOM. Officials could not give a date for when the HTTP
integration would happen.

Microsoft also is continuing work to ensure that DCOM is available on a
variety of Unix platforms. Software AG is working to port DCOM to 10 Unix
platforms by the first half of next year.

For those platforms that won't support DCOM, such as Solaris, Microsoft is
also creating a Java wrapper that will enable a DCOM object to be executed
within the Java virtual machine.

Rohit Khare /// MCI Internet Architecture (BOS) ///
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