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Microsoft Pushes .NET with Enterprise-level Visual Studio.NET Tools

In a bid to push forward its .NET initiative, Microsoft Corp. Monday rolled out two new versions of its Visual Studio.NET rapid application development tool.

The Visual Studio.NET RAD is geared to the creation of Web applications and XML Web services, key ingredients in Microsoft's plan to transform itself from a creator and vendor of shrink-wrapped software into a provider of Web-based software-as-a-service.

The versions released Monday were both enterprise-level tools for the fulfillment of mission-critical projects. Both new versions -- Visual Studio.NET Enterprise Architect (VSEA) and Visual Studio.NET Enterprise Developer (VSED) -- include updated versions of the Visual Basic and Visual C++ programming languages as well as the first version of C#, a programming language specifically designed for building Web-based software.

Both packages will also feature enterprise frameworks and templates to give developers a starting point and architectural guidance; UML-based modeling features for displaying application architecture and requirements; and performance, load and functional testing tools.

"Microsoft has worked very hard to deliver on its vision for development and integration of Web services," said Daryl Plummer, group vice president and research director at GartnerGroup. "The Visual Studio.NET Enterprise tools will be one of the first Web services toolsets offering integrated project life-cycle tools and open, extensible APIs. These tools and Web services provide developers with an opportunity to reduce the time it takes to move an application through the development and deployment process."

VSEA packs in additional modeling features that help non-technical executives and managers work with their programmers by creating graphical representations of software.

"Companies are embroiled in a race to create and deploy the very best applications and Web services, and do so at Internet speed, all with a limited amount of resources," said Tom Button, vice president of .NET Tools Group at Microsoft. "The new features in VSEA and VSED help development teams take an application from vision to production in record time."