I've already posted on AJAX, introducing the technology that's driving many new web site from Google and many others (Microsoft included) and listing a few web sites that support it. After my talk I got many questions, so there is some more information.
First, MS is very active on AJAX, their best AJAX site probably being start.com. Notice in particular how you can drag and drop the portions of the page to rearrange them. Of course, as the disclaimer warns us, "this site is not an officially supported site. it is an incubation experiment and doesn't represent any particular strategy or policy." However I strongly believe this is not really true. AJAX is affecting Microsoft, because it makes web applications work almost as nice as standard Windows programs, making the programs and even the operating system less central (for example, you can use GMail on Mac OS, Linux, and other OSes).
Bill Gates is apparently full aware of the issues, as the memo leaked last week (on purpose?) seems to underline: "This coming services wave will be very disruptive... This next generation of the internet is being shaped by its grassroots adoption and popularization model... " This letter is partially a reponse to a memo from Ray Ozzie (Microsoft's Chief Technical Officer): "Many things we developed in that era continue to fuel the growth of today's Internet: the technologies of AJAX -- DHTML and XMLHTTP -- were created in 1998... We should've been leaders with all our Web properties in harnessing the potential of AJAX, following our pioneering work in OWA. We knew search would be important, but through Google's focus they've gained a tremendously strong position.... For all its tremendous innovation and its embracing of HTML and XML, Office is not yet the source of key Web data formats -- surely not to the level of PDF. While we've led with great capabilities in Messenger & Communicator, it was Skype, not us, who made VoIP broadly popular and created a new category...." The memo continues suggestiing how Microsoft should chagne its business model. Intestering reading indeed.
As I don't have all of the code for the demo ready to download yet (sorry about that), but you can for now have a look at my slides. If you want to start playing with the tools I've used I suggest you look to www.ajaxtoolbox.com and sourceforge.net/projects/goog-ajaxslt.