RealTime IT News

Gates Visualizes 'Seamless' Developers

SAN FRANCISCO -- Microsoft founder Bill Gates is once again counting on developers to make what the company calls "seamless connections" between Windows software and people's lives.

The Redmond, Wash.-based empire is currently engrossed in its .NET strategy as it prepares for the next major waves of development, database and operating system platforms (codenamed Whidbey, Yukon and Longhorn, respectively). All three projects have been delayed from their original target launch dates. Still, Gates has managed to convince code writers to stay the course and keep the faith.

"There is no slowdown in this at all," Gates said during his keynote at a Microsoft developer's conference here. "Visual Studio is our commitment to this. It is the third pillar behind Windows and Office. We just want to have the common tools to connect the hardware and the software while having a powerful visualization tool...The developer community is the catalyst that takes [this] from vision to reality."

Microsoft's biggest obstacle for developers has been production delays. Citing "quality requirements," the company says it will deliver the first beta of Visual Studio "Whidbey" sometime before the end of this June with a second beta due out by the end of the year. The full-blown version for end-users is targeted for the first half of 2005, several months beyond the earlier target of 2004. The company said it is still on track to deliver its second beta for SQL Server 2005 "Yukon" in the first half of 2004.

To help push things along, Gates unveiled Visual Studio 2005 Community Technology Preview program along with the company's Microsoft Speech Server 2004 and Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition software. Gates said Microsoft is using the software platforms to address mobility, Web services , speech, and location services (through its MapPoint Location Server) to build applications for the Web, Microsoft Windows Mobile-based Pocket PCs, smartphones and speech technologies.

"We're connecting hardware and software together and we've had some breakthroughs together," he said.

Visual Studio .NET and .NET Framework are certainly keystones to Microsoft's success. Gates reiterated that point by revealing there are more than 80 million copies of the .NET Framework currently in distribution. The company also reports some 2.5 million developers currently using Visual Studio .NET; more than 180 Visual Studio Industry Partners; and upwards of 60 percent of Fortune 100 companies are run on the .NET Framework.

Microsoft has also focused on its support of XML-schemas and Web services-related standards and initiatives, including several "co-opetiton" partnerships with vendors such as BEA and IBM .

"If people have to create their own protocols they won't have time to develop their applications," he said.

With that in mind, Gates said Microsoft's goal is to make the development process broader and faster by reusing common APIs and scripts. In that way, a developer could write once and have the application run on multiple devices like a PC, wireless PDA or Xbox game console.

"For many common scenarios, we're looking to reduce half as much code as we use now," Gates said. "It is only the advances that reduce the amount of code that is important. Only now are those pieces coming into place."