Microsoft Unleashes Visual Studio .NET

SAN FRANCISCO — The rallying cries for Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer Wednesday is again: “developers, developers, developers, developers.”

The two men are in San Francisco and Chicago respectively to simultaneously launch VS.NET (Visual Studio .NET) strategy, which is crucial to the software giant’s goal of monopolizing the Internet’s latest trend: Web-based services.

Among the items Microsoft is putting on store shelves: Microsoft Visual Studio .Net and Microsoft .Net Framework (developers tools) as well as Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and Microsoft BizTalk Server 2002 Tool Kit.

Holding up the VS .Net box, Gates quipped about the timeliness of the release.

“I was thinking that this is a great Valentines Day present,” says Gates.

The platform is intended as a single, unified development environment for the creation of XML Web services. It automatically creates the necessary XML and SOAP interface needed to turn an application into an XML Web service.

“This is really message-based programming,” says Gates. “We needed to show developers a way to build a simple layer that does the simple XML services instead of wasting code and losing months of work. That way people can still use Fortran and Cobol in their applications.”

Visual Studio .NET is offered in three editions: Visual Studio .NET Enterprise Architect ($2,499), Developer ($1,799) and Professional ($1,079).

Standard editions of Visual Basic .NET, Visual C++ .NET and Visual C# .NET will retail for $109.

Microsoft says the localized versions of Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Framework SDK should be available soon.

In addition to English, Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Framework Software Development Kit (SDK) will be available in eight languages, including French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese and Korean.

Visual Studio .NET features Visual Basic .NET, which now includes new object-oriented programming features; Visual C++; and C# (C sharp), a hybrid of C and C++ intended to compete with Sun’s Java language.

C# is an object-oriented language and boasts type-safety, garbage collection, simplified type declarations, versioning and scalability support, and other features that make developing solutions faster and easier, especially for COM+ and Web services.

Its core is the .NET Framework, which consists of the Framework classes, ASP.NET and the common language runtime.

Another key part of the .NET initiative is the security factor. The company recently made security and trustworthiness as its rallying cry.

“We want people to think about these Web services as they think about the electrical phone system or phone system that we count on today,” says Gates. “So the industry as a whole has to step up to make sure that these applications can be available to people anytime, anywhere on any device.”

Microsoft has been planning VS.NET and the VSLive! show for more than a year. The strategy includes a broad upgrade of the entire Microsoft line that is closely tied to Internet services. While the specific events now are about tools for developers and new servers, the .Net strategy will touch everything from PDAs to Web site logins to new browser versions to enterprise software features.

Earlier this month the final version of the ASP.NET code was released – the .NET upgrade to Active Server Pages.

For VSLive!, Microsoft has assembled nearly 60 vendor companies all chomping at the bit to show their love for Microsoft and demonstrate their latest products and services that support .NET.

“We did a lot of work with IBM,” says Gates. “We found that they had some good ideas and we had some good ideas.”

Also on board with major compatibility announcements are Borland and Macromedia on the .Net Framework and IBM, Computer Associates, Groove Networks and SAP for the Visual Studio .NET side.

It’s not like Microsoft has lack of support. Try the number 7 million on for size. That’s the number of developer licenses currently outstanding for VS.NET, based on the potential number of upgraders and on the number of previous copies sold.

The new attention on Web Services is an outgrowth of what Microsoft is doing and the way other companies like Sun Microsystems , IBM and BEA Systems, Inc. are trying to work with them (or around them).

But most analysts and developers say that VS.NET will be the make or break thing for Microsoft in their pursuit of maintaining control in developer’s minds.

It better, Microsoft is betting the farm on the .NET initiative, spending $5 billion a year in three year cycles just for R&D on the strategy.

Gates is so confident about Microsoft’s position in the Web Services sector, that the company is using VS .NET to build all of its future sites.

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