Microsoft expanded plans for its .NET strategy by signing deals with online auction giant eBay and news and information provider Reuters. The eBay deal consists of a licensing agreement that will offer eBay's auction functionality as .NET Web services. With Reuters, Microsoft will develop instant messaging software geared toward financial institutions. The agreements are the first such deals for the software giant.

For eBay, the move to .NET will require a few interim steps: Microsoft will first offer eBay auctioning functions on MSN Web sites as eBay starts to integrate Microsoft technologies such as Windows 2000 and Microsoft Passport into eBay's back-end processes. "I am personally very excited about this deal because it combines eBay's online trading community with Microsoft's pioneering .NET platform technology," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "Together, we can significantly enhance the online experience for millions of online customers."

When the transformation is complete, eBay will offer users ways to interact with online auctions by using XML- and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP)-based Web services. This interaction will make eBay's auctioning functions available to developers, opening up new types of interfaces for end users. For example, when outbid, users might be paged on a cell phone or receive an instant message from MSN Messenger.

Microsoft's deal with Reuters involves more than 25 financial institutions, including some of the world's largest banks. The deal will culminate in a product called Reuters.Net Messaging that will be based on Microsoft's instant messaging technology and provide the secure realtime communications features that financial institutions demand. The software should be available later this year. "By combining Reuters' knowledge of financial markets with the power of Microsoft's new technologies such as the .NET Enterprise Servers, we will help financial companies provide more efficient and secure communication for their customers," said Ballmer.

"The differentiating factor of Reuters.Net Messaging is how we go about solving the security issues," said Reuters' interim CEO Tom Glocer. "The way most consumer chat works, you have to open up your firewall ports, and the Deutsche Banks of this world won't do that." Microsoft will base Reuters.Net Messaging's security framework on the new Session Initiation Protocol (SIP).