Before the details of that announcement, some background: Ajax is a fast-growing and already widely adopted open client technology that organizations are incorporating into their external and internal Web sites to simplify the browsing experience, and to make it easier for users to shop, work, plan, correspond and navigate online.
The beauty of the Ajax technology is that it makes it unnecessary to manually refresh one's browser to send or receive information over the Web. Instead, information is automatically updated and available on demand, allowing you to "drag and drop" or input information and get a response without refreshing the browser, an experience not dissimilar with what happens on your PC desktop.
This capability can significantly reduce the steps needed to complete a transaction over the Web, and provide real competitive and time-to-market advantage for those businesses dependent on a quick-and-easy-to-use-and-navigate front-end interface to their Web applications. It's also helping empower developers creating extremely useful "mashup" applications (ones which combine the best of one application or data source with another: housingmaps.com is one great example in the apartment hunting space.) Check out Derek Powazek's blog post "Ajax, Ajax Everywhere" to get the everyman's explanation of Ajax.
The Open Ajax initiative was announced earlier this year to promote Ajax's promise of universal compatibility with any computer device, application, desktop or operating system, and easy incorporation into new and existing software programs. Initial supporting members included IBM, BEA, Borland, Eclipse Foundation, Google, Mozilla, Oracle, and numerous others.
Yesterday's announcement welcomed the likes of Adobe, Intel, Opera, SAP, Software AG, Tibco, XML11 and several others (click on the previous link for a comprehensive list), expanding total participation in Open Ajax to 28 companies.
It's great to see all these companies coming together to cultivate and expand the use of this liberating Web technology. Companies and consumers alike are already benefitting from the easy-to-use interfaces and "mixing" and "mashing" of applications enabled via Ajax, and I suspect that it will only evolve and mature as Open Ajax members come together to identify new and innovative opportunities and standards.