Microsoft scraps Web services initiative

Microsoft has quietly shelved a consumer information service that was once planned as the centerpiece of the software giant's foray into the market for tightly linked Web services.

The service, originally code-named Hailstorm and later renamed My Services, was to be the clearest example of the company's ambitious .Net strategy. It was intended to permit an individual to keep an online persona independent of his or her desktop computer, supposedly safely stored as part of a vast data repository where it could be easily accessed from any point on the Internet.

At the introduction of My Services, Microsoft also proclaimed that it would have a set of high-profile partners in such areas as finance and travel for the My Services system. However, according to both industry consultants and Microsoft partners, after nine months of intense effort, the company was unable to find any partner willing to commit to the program.

Industry executives said the caution displayed by consumer giants like American Express and Citigroup illuminated a bitter tug-of-war being fought over consumer information by some of the nation's largest financial and information companies.

''They ran into the reality that many companies don't want any company between them and their customers,'' said David Smith, vice president of Internet Services for the Gartner Group, a computer industry consulting and research firm.

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