Alex T-B writes "Looks like Microsoft is taking the threat from CORBA and Java seriously. They've launched a network protocol suite [C-Net story] to embrace and extend the distributed business software market. SOAP, as it's called, is based on XML, and is supposed to move audiences away from UNIX and towards adopting Win2k and fully MS-ized software solutions. Interestingly, no MS software is needed to use SOAP, and it levels the playing field as 'proprietary' solutions can be replaced with a universal standard that enabled apps written in different languages to communicate with each other easily over the internet. Is MS actually doing the market a favour by removing vendors' 'lock-in' strategies to properietary solutions?"