Microsoft May Drop Popfly Web Mashup Tool

Microsoft on Friday said that it may discontinue its free Popfly service that lets non-programmers build Web 2.0 apps.

Popfly "is in a transitional phase," said a Microsoft spokeswoman on Friday. "We have no other details at the moment."

A free programming tool built on Microsoft's Silverlight rich media platform, Popfly lets novice coders build powerful Web 2.0 apps or casual games simply by dragging and dropping pre-built services such as RSS or Flickr image feeds, all represented on the screen as icons or blocks.

CEO Steve Ballmer demonstrated Popfly at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco in fall 2007.

Popfly was created by the Developer Division inside the Server and Tools Division at Microsoft. The service was still technically in beta.

According to an anonymous posting Thursday at the Mini-Microsoft site, Microsoft "disbanded" the team behind Popfly as part of Thursday's layoffs of 1,400 employees.

Popfly was one of a pair of products that appears to have fallen victim to those cuts.

Microsoft confirmed Friday that it also closed down the group that built its venerable Flight Simulator software, though the technology or the game itself may re-appear on the Web.

Mark Frydenberg, a programming instructor at Bentley College in Waltham, Mass., uses Popfly to teach introductory programming. Popfly is ideal for teaching students who are savvy with the Web but have little experience at coding, he said, and "friendlier" and easier to use than Yahoo's similar Yahoo Pipes.

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