If you look at the Web Services Developer Center at the moment you will see that the headlines are all on WSE 3.0 with articles from Keith Brown and Niels Flensted-Jensen as well as the latest and final Oct CTP release. The WSE team has been heads down for the last month busy cranking to get the bugs down, writing samples and articles, doing stress and performance runs, getting new versions of the hands on labs together, sign-off from external customer's applications and a myriad of other jobs. WSE 3.0 is going to launch at the same time as Visual Studio 2005 in November which is very soon. These are some of my favorite features that we have closed on in the last few weeks;

  • Integrated with ClickOnce - This was a big ask from the customer product feedback center and now WSE 3.0 is intergrated with ClickOnce. This enables you to either deploy just the WSE 3.0 runtime dll with your application or you can deploy the WSE 3.0 runtime MSI that will run when you install your application. I should also make it clear that you are also free to redistribute the WSE 2.0 and WSE 3.0 runtime dlls with your application by whatever means you desire, be that a batch file or your own setup tool.
  • Usability tweaks to the WSE Configuration Tool - It is amazing how small things help. One painful thing I kept doing was creating my own security token managers, particulary UsernameTokenManagers and everytime I had to dig out the namespace URL value and cut and paste this into the config file in order to override the default UsernameTokenManager. It was tedious and error prone. Now we have added these namespace values to the dropdown list on the Security tab and voila, life is much easier when providing your own one. But there's more - the ability to select from any of the certificate stores in the policy wizard (it was fixed to a single store previously), the ability to choose certificate revocation and caching modes and better descriptions for the "turnkey security scenarios" have all improved the tooling experience.
  • Performance. WSE 3.0 on .NET 2.0 is approximately 30% faster on message throughout (messages per second) than WSE 2.0 on .NET 1.1. Enough said. We will published the full numbers a month or so after shipping the final version of WSE 3.0.
  • Interoperability. WSE 3.0 is fully interoperable with the forthcoming WCF Beta 2 release. We have been working on this one for a while fixing issues on both sides. We have also done testing against the latest version of IBM's WebSphere and have achieved interoperabilty here however there are still tests to work through, but it looks good.
  • Docs and Samples. I have been especially busy here getting these together. Plenty more samples all with VB.NET versions have been added. With docs we also plan to have regular MSDN updates after the product ships, so this is really your best source of information.
  • 64bit. WSE 3.0 runs like a treat on 64 bit machines (and this is native, not in WOW) and in many of the security scenarios we have been observing significantly improved performance throughput compared to 32 bit machines. Roughly this is looking like a 40% increase currently!
  • Stress - We have had WSE 3.0 stress runs running for over 4 weeks with hundreds of thousands of concurrent requests with nearly insignificant memory leaks for a long time now. Of course we need to do this on the final build of .NET v2.0 but currently it is looking to be a reliable product.
  • Security Review - Believe me that you have to have a lot of drink once you get sign-off on this from the security initiative. I did.

Hopefully this has given you some insight into the "shipping end game"  for WSE 3.0. It is looking to be a great release and certainly it is setting the standard for ease of use when building secure, distributed applications with Web services.