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HailStorm

Part of Microsoft's .Net initiative, HailStorm is the company's plan to provide a single place on the Web where any individual user (who pays a fee) may securely store personal and financial information that can be shared with others when desired (for example, to pay for something at an online store). HailStorm makes use of the Extensible Markup Language (XML) and the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).

The initial set of HailStorm services includes the storing of subscribers' personal information, contacts, locations, profiles, favorite Web sites, and device settings. HailStorm also can provide calendar services and management of inbox items such as e-mail and voice mail. Users pay for all selected services.

An example of a HailStorm service might involve an individual booking an airline flight using an online travel reservation service. With the user's permission, the flight is automatically scheduled into his HailStorm-enabled calendar. If the flight is delayed or canceled, the user is automatically notified. HailStorm services can be accessed from any computer, smartphone, personal digital assistant (PDA), or other Internet-connected device.

Microsoft believes that HailStorm offers users online privacy that is not currently available at most Web sites. Today, any information entered into an online form at a Web site becomes the property of that Web site. With HailStorm, the user controls all personal information and decides who gets to use it, how long they may use it, and how they may use it. A user can also revoke access to personal information. Microsoft binds HailStorm licensees to specific terms of use that control how data is used. HailStorm services are expected to be available as a beta test in late 2001. Full release is expected in 2002.

Industry commentators and competitors express concerns about Microsoft's ability to keep its users' personal information secure and about the need for an open cross-competitor standard as opposed to a proprietary service that becomes a de facto standard.

This was last updated in September 2005

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