Microsoft is leading a group of vendors proposing a specification intended to extend web services to devices.

Along with BEA Systems, Canon and Intel, Microsoft is proposing WS-Discovery, which purports to bring the benefits of web services to devices by enabling applications to form a unified system and allowing for discovery of services, according to BEA.

WS-Discovery, which is being unveiled at the Intel Developer Forum event in San Francisco, describes a way for devices to find and connect to web services in a simple, lightweight way.

Publication of the specification is an effort to expand the existing web services architecture to computing and peripheral devices not typically reachable through Web services, such as computer peripherals, computing appliances, and consumer electronics.

The specification differs from UDD (Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration), the directory technology for web services, according to one analyst.

"Basically, specs like UDDI are good for when the various Web services participants are all connected to the network, but what do you do about mobile devices, phones, and even things like printers that will increasingly take advantage of web services, but systems aren't aware of when the devices are available or not," said Ronald Schmelzer, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC.

"In this vein, Microsoft is introducing its WS-Discovery protocol that is focused on two key things: notifying systems through a multicast protocol when a device or service is available, and providing a location 'bootstrap' so that UDDI systems and event-driven systems can continue to locate and communicate with the device," Schmelzer said.