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RealTime IT News

Microsoft Offers Improved Developer Tools

Microsoft Monday released updated toolkits for .NET and Windows Embedded developers to help streamline application rollouts.

As part of its strategy, the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker also released a public beta version of its PowerPoint authoring tool and announced new upgrades and services.

As a starting point, the ASP.NET Web Matrix, released last year, which is a lightweight WYSIWYG application development tool for ASP.NET, is now available as a free download. The company said that the current update is based on feedback from the developer community. It includes support for Microsoft Access database and the ability to build applications using J# (its Java alternative) as well as Microsoft Visual Basic.NET and C# .

The ASP.NET Starter Kits are five sample applications for building such things as e-commerce storefronts, community portals and data reporting applications. The samples include documented source code that can be viewed and edited with either Visual Studio.NET or ASP.NET Web Matrix. Each release version of the kit has been enhanced from the beta version. For example, the Community Starter Kit includes rich HTML content editing, cross-community content replication, and a more flexible content layout.

Microsoft also has deals with "myriad" partners ready to provide ASP.NET hosting services, so that developers can quickly deploy completed applications.

Also on Microsoft's plate, the company announced its Windows Embedded Evaluation Hardware Kitting Program at the Embedded Processor Forum 2003 in San Jose, Calif. The new tool means Microsoft Embedded partners will now be able to distribute an Evaluation Toolkit along with an OS runtime image for Windows CE .NET or Windows XP Embedded. Developers previously had to order the toolkits separately from Microsoft or authorized distributors.

The evaluation toolkits, offered to partners for up to 1,000 of their hardware platforms at no charge, include the complete operating system components. The runtime image can be preloaded on the hardware platform so that OEMs and application developers can evaluate and build devices faster and more economically. .

Also on Monday, Microsoft released the beta releasebeta version of its Microsoft Producer for Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003. The free add-on includes features to create rich-media presentations that synchronize audio, video, and PowerPoint slides and images, with built-in support for the Windows Media 9 Series. The product supports playback for Mac and Netscape users. Ironically, Microsoft announced it would no longer support its Internet Explorer Web browser for future versions of the Macintosh operating system.

The company claimed a 20 percent improvement in audio compression and up to 50 percent better video compression. The product now complies with the e-learning standards prescribed by organizations such as the IMS Global Learning Consortium and the Department of Defense SCORM.

The public beta release of Microsoft Producer 2003 is available in English; final versions will be available in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and both simplified and traditional Chinese.