OSD: Describing Software Packages on the Internet

In August of 1997, Marimba and Microsoft jointly submitted a standards proposal called Open Software Description (OSD) to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). OSD is a compact software language for describing the contents and dependencies of software packages. Such a standard language is needed to realize the Internet's potential as a medium for delivering all types of software to any kinds of client platforms. The cooperation of Microsoft and Marimba in developing the OSD specification testifies to OSD's importance and its applicability to a broad spectrum of software distribution contexts. This paper describes OSD and the motivation for its development. It shows how OSD can substantially improve the user experience of downloading software over the Internet. It explains how software developers can use OSD, and how OSD relates to other Internet standards. The paper concludes with perspectives on OSD written by Marimba, Microsoft, Tivoli, and Novell.

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