Overshadowed by the launch of Silverlight project, the Microsoft Codename Astoria project is taking different approach to data.

"The goal of Microsoft Codename Astoria is to enable applications to expose data as a data service that can be consumed by web clients within a corporate network and across the internet. The data service is reachable over HTTP, and URIs are used to identify the various pieces of information available through the service. Interactions with the data service happens in terms of HTTP verbs such as GET, POST, PUT and DELETE, and the data exchanged in those interactions is represented in simple formats such as XML and JSON."

This approach comes handy with the new presentation technologies for the web, such as Silverlight, and the older Flash. While AJAX-based web sites serve pages containing presentation and behavior, and then the JavaScript code turns back and fetches data separately using XMLHTTP, the new frameworks remove the option of a server-side rendering process that mixes data and code. The code to drive the presentation layer is pre-compiled and deployed as a single file on the web server. After reaching the client web browser the code calls back into to the web server to retrieve actual data to display within the user interface.

Details on: http://astoria.mslivelabs.com/Overview.doc