Microsoft Invented Ajax

This morning, I was flipping through my trusty Boston Globe when I came across an article entitled Moving ahead with Windows. The article is basically about how Web technology has begun to catch up desktop applications and how Microsoft should start being afraid.

The kicker was a sentence that sort of took me by surprise:

Ironically, Microsoft invented Ajax in the late ’90s and has used it for years for an online version of its Outlook e-mail program.

Now, I usually have problems with technical articles written by major newspapers since they tend to oversimplify a lot of issues, as it seems to be the case here. Who has ever said that Microsoft invented Ajax? They may have spearheaded the technologies that led to the evolution of Ajax, but I don’t think that’s a true statement. Also, nowhere in the article did it mention where the term Ajax originated from, making it almost sound like Microsoft came up with the term itself. Let’s give credit where credit is due people!


  1. erik

    I just came across your website looking for a book covering Javascript & XML. And well, I will probaly buy your AJAX book when it comes availible here in NL and I hope it is better then this post. If you are gonna scream at least tell who owns the real credits then....

    Jesse James Garrett from Adaptive Path? who gives this buzzword AJAX to it?

    Google Suggest/Maps (2004-5) AJAX examples according to Garrett? (Maps is NOT even XHTML valid and well Suggest doesn&#039t even got a doctype)

    Or the Microsoft Outlook Web Access Team. Which is using it since 1998 but didn&#039t add a buzzword to it? And got it working wonderfull in Exchange 2003 and 2000 which is way before the buzzword got added to it. But just as google, probaly don&#039t got a a valid (X)HTML implementation.

    Please explain, because understanding this AJAX history is getting pretty irritating.

  2. phil paxton

    I don&#039t think AJAX as-is, was developed by Microsoft, but I think the underpinnings were.

    If you worked with ASP in its earlier days, up through and including the release and movement en masse to the .Net world, there was a concept known as Remote Scripting which was *awfully similar* to AJAX in the overall philosophy. I&#039m not talking about the bits-n-bytes level, but the conceptual level and how it worked. Perhaps there are a few more bells & whistles as well as standards to make it more conducive to other platforms, browser versions, add-ons, etc. But if it were a patent case (with reasonably qualified people specializing in IP), I don&#039t think AJAX would make it possible to seperate itself Remote Scripting.

    I&#039d liken it to when I spent a lot of time working on my grandfather&#039s farm, knowing how to shift gears (manual) on a tractor, etc. Only to have someone tell me manual transmission exists for cars but there&#039s a formal definition what it is (and what it is not) and it&#039s written (as if to be intentionally diverse enough to make it appear I can&#039t take all of the things I learned about driving a tractor and apply them to driving a car. Sure, there were a few changes in the vehicle and I didn&#039t have tire brakes, but manually shifting breaks is manually shifting breaks.

    Making trips to|from the server without any monkey business required from the user.

    Don&#039t get me wrong: it&#039s got its place. but it&#039s not a brand new concept although it might be an improvement or deliver considerable new ideas.

  3. Nicholas C. Zakas

    Yes, remote scripting definitely preceded Ajax, but can you really say that Microsoft invented it? The hidden frame technique has been around for a while, I don&#039t know that anyone can claim to have invented it.

  4. Tim from philly

    Didn&#039t Al Gore invent AJAX? Hum. Now I&#039m confused. :)

  5. Daren Dahl

    This seems to be a sore point for Microsoft and some Microsoft developers. Many of the articles on MSDN shy away from the AJAX moniker in favor of Remote Scripting. Many of them spend the first part of the article explaining that MS invented AJAX and that AJAX is a bad name. I prefer the name AJAX.

    Microsoft may have invented the underpinnings of AJAX but Google made it cool.

    Same with many other technologies. Microsoft had mapping software for years but it took Google to make it cool.

    I like Microsoft a lot but Google is currently better at breaking paradigms and creating new ways of solving problems with old technology.

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