Businesses need to participate in working groups developing web standards if they want to ensure progress is not hijacked by vendors' interests, say analysts.
The warning follows a U-turn by Microsoft on its participation in a web services working group led by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which has raised fears that vendors' own self-interest may stall progress.
"If businesses want to make sure that ongoing web standards developments produce something meaningful for them, they have to invest now and get involved in these working groups," said Neil Ward-Dutton, director of analyst Ovum.
Microsoft confirmed it would not "formally participate" in the W3C web services choreography working group.
Peter Bell, business strategy manager for .Net, Microsoft UK, would not go into details but said that Microsoft based its participation on whether it felt it had something to offer, and whether there was a "reasonable chance of progress".
"Working groups have to have enough shared viewpoints and a readiness to enable compromise," he said.
The withdrawal from the W3C working group has also sparked fears that Microsoft may be considering charging royalty fees for its works.
The software giant had been working with both IBM and BEA Systems to produce a separate choreography-type standard: Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS).
While both BEA and IBM have indicated a willingness to make BPEL4WS a royalty-free standard, Microsoft has yet to issue a formal statement on its position.
But it would be "foolhardy" of Microsoft to seek royalty payments for any of this work, said Ward-Dutton.
"Vendors have so far been very cooperative," he said. "When the standards are finalised, they should compete on the benefits they bring to implementations."
Microsoft has denied 'cherry picking' which standards it cooperates on.
"Our track record on internet and web services standards is unparalleled. We've been increasing our contribution at a time when economic circumstances have seen others cut back," said Bell.
The W3C choreography group is examining ways of describing the usage and linkage relationships between web services.
Representatives from 27 companies, including Oracle, SAP and EDS, make up the group.
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