Microsoft is pushing a new set of tools that will make it easier for developers to build peer-to-peer (P2P) applications for the Windows XP environment.
But analysts have claimed that P2P adoption in the corporate space is still at least three years away.
Microsoft this week released a beta version of the P2P software development kit, which includes improvements to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) to allow P2P applications to operate across corporate firewalls.
P2P Application Programming Interfaces will be built into Windows XP to enable devices on a network automatically to interact with each other, according to Microsoft.
The company staked its claim in the P2P market in 2001 with a $51m investment in Groove Networks, the company founded by Lotus Notes creator Ray Ozzie.
P2P relies on the computing power of desktop PCs by allowing end users to share information and programs without going through a central server, which is why it appeals to Microsoft.
Sun Microsystems has also made clear how important P2P will become with its Jxta open source development project.
Alan Lawson, research analyst at the Butler Group, suggested that business adoption of P2P is still a long way off, partly because of the stigma created by file-swapping services like Napster.
"The only success story so far is with the content pirates and that has tainted the model with business users," he said.
"It won't be viable for at least another two or three years in the enterprise setting, but it will be rolled out and companies like Microsoft and Sun that support it will be in a good position to take advantage of that."
Jawad Khaki, corporate vice president of Windows networking and communication technologies at Microsoft, explained that the kit will make it easier for businesses to try out P2P applications.
"The broad adoption of IPv6 will help accelerate the development of innovative P2P applications without requiring changes to the existing IPv4 applications and infrastructure," he said in a statement.
The Windows XP P2P development kit beta is available for download now from the Microsoft Developers Network website here. The full version is expected to be available later this year.
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