The second Community Technology Preview (CTP) of the Astoria web data services technology is due around Christmastime. The Astoria project is focused around merging web technologies and concepts with the Microsoft data platform. The goal is to provide an infrastructure for Internet applications.
Astoria should assist with data access in AJAX, Silverlight, and Flash applications. Astoria is intended to build "cloud data services", which is someone's data that lives on the Internet at some publicly available location. The data is accessible by any number of people who may or may not be using similar technologies.
The data service is reachable over HTTP. URIs are used to identify the various pieces of information available through the service. Interactions with the data service happens in terms of HTTP verbs such as GET, POST, PUT and DELETE, and the data exchanged in those interactions is represented in simple formats such as XML and JSON.
Astoria is to be part of Visual Studio 2008. The current CTP bits are available at the Astoria download site. The first Astoria CTP is a dual release, making Astoria available in the form of downloadable bits that can be used to build data services that are entirely contained within a single computer or network and as an experimental online service that you can use to create online stores that are hosted by Microsoft and are accessible over the internet.