Microsoft Highlights New Developer Tools

SAN DIEGO — Security is still Microsoft’s number one job, even as Redmond continues its drive to integrate applications, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the audience at Tech-Ed 2004.

At its latest conference for developers and IT professionals, opening Monday here, Microsoft announced the availability of a technical preview of Microsoft Office Information Bridge Framework, and the release of Web Services Enhancements 2.0. The company also previewed the Visual Studio 2005 Team System, tools that will help streamline the process of software development, as well as writing the code itself.

“[IBF and WSE] are two of the absolute biggest releases we’ve ever done in terms of improving developer performance,” Ballmer told the audience. “But the biggest is Visual Studio 2005 Team System,” which will ship in 2005. He said developers could expect a 50 percent reduction in code for common scenarios when using Visual Studio 2005.

Both Microsoft Office Information Bridge Framework (IBF) and Visual Studio 2005 Team System are designed to make development faster. IBF includes client-side and server-side components, as well as Information Bridge Metadata Designer, a plug-in for the Microsoft Visual Studio .NET development system that creates and manages solution metadata. IBF lets Office act as the front end for both creating and consuming Web services. Rebecca Dias, product manager for the Web services group, demonstrated pulling up information about a customer from within the customer’s Outlook e-mail, and then executing a stock trade — still in Outlook.

Web Services Enhancements (WSE) 2.0 lets non-developers build Web services using wizards and drag-and-drop tools. Redmond also released the technology preview of Microsoft BizTalk Server Adapter for WSE 2.0 for orchestrating security-enhanced Web services and exposing business process flows as secure Web services.

Ballmer said the foremost concern of customers is the pressure to do more with less. He pointed to the disappointment of how little impact the huge technology ramp-up of the dot-com era made. We’ve been in a drying out period, but now, good, solid, steady increases in IT spending. But the pressure to do new projects will still exceed the budgets.

Admitting that security issues have diverted resources and cost businesses money, he said, “We have to focus in on productivity and total cost of ownership.”

“We built a whole set of tools in our research organization to help us look at security, as part of our get-well initiative,” Ballmer said, “and they’ll be built into our Visual Studio to help you,” Ballmer promised. For example, Watson, Microsoft’s internal automatic error-reporting mechanism, will be built into future versions of Visual Studio, as well as into other tools.

Ballmer admitted that take-up on the company’s 2003 line hasn’t been stellar. “A lot of new product we brought to market still hasn’t been fully mobilized,” he said.

While customers may have resisted moving to Office 2003, Microsoft is charging ahead with integration through Visual Studio 2005 and Longhorn, the next generation of Windows. Ballmer also promised that in the future, its Business Solutions applications would be integrated, along with a new version of QL Server 2005 that includes native XML and deep integration with Visual Studio 2005.

Pointing to Microsoft’s work with standards organizations, including the Web Services Interoperability Organization, Ballmer said, “We’re very keen to build an integrated platform that not only makes your life simple, but that integrates well with the other applications you use.”

“The work we do is one of the top transformers of society,” Ballmer said. “As we look out the next ten years, all I see is blue skies in terms of the innovation we can bring to bear in our companies that can positively change the world.”

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