Microsoft Unveils New Platform

Microsoft Corp.
Thursday shrugged off the ominous legal cloud that has been following it for more than a year, rolling out its next generation of software and services.


The Microsoft .NET platform is the software giant’s highly-anticipated play
to bring the Internet into more homes via constellations of smart devices
and Web sites.


The new family of Microsoft .NET products and technologies replaces the
previous working title of Next Generation Windows Services and
includes software for developers to build next-generation Internet
experiences as well as power a new breed of smart Internet devices —
handheld computers and cell phones.


Presiding over Forum 2000, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, who in January
also became chief software architect, repeated his pledge to develop software that breaks down barriers between computers, devices, Web sites, organizations and
industries — to better realize the full potential of the Internet.


At the heart of the initiative, Gates said the .NET platform seeks to break
new ground in terms of using Internet standards such as XML, which exchanges
data, to link systems together. Software applications would also be
dispensed via the Web rather than relying on PC-based centrality.


“Today’s Internet experience can be confusing and difficult, with a jumble
of applications, Web pages and devices, none of which work with one another
on your behalf,” Gates said. “With the emergence of standards like XML, we
now have the opportunity to revolutionize the way computers talk to one
another on our behalf just as the browser changed the way we interact with
computers.”


Gates outline specific features of the new technology:

  • .NET User Experience — Universal Canvas XML-based compound information
    architecture, natural user interface, integral digital media support,
    privacy-enabling technologies for management and control of personal
    information
  • .NET Infrastructure and Tools — Visual Studio 7.0, a new version of
    the world’s most popular developer toolset, will provide support for
    XML-based Web service development, including the 50 percent of the world’s
    developers who use the Visual Basic development system
  • .NET Building Block Services — Includes identity, notification and
    messaging, personalization, schematized storage, calendar, directory, search
    and software delivery.


Microsoft also announced plans for new products built on the .NET platform,
which will include features from Microsoft Windows operating system, Windows
DNA servers, Microsoft Office, the MSN network of Internet services and the
Visual Studio
development system.


President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer talked about how his
firm’s new product and services suite is different than the rest of the Net.


“Today’s Internet has a lot in common with the old mainframe computing
model, where information was locked up in centralized
servers and users relied on them for everything,” Ballmer said. “It’s hard
for today’s Web sites to communicate with each other in a meaningful way, or
collaborate to provide broader, deeper services.”


“Industry standards like XML and SOAP unlock information so it can be
organized, manipulated and programmed, then displayed on any kind of device
or system, any way you want it. A platform built around these standards will
put control of information back into the hands of the people that need to
use it. Microsoft .NET products and services are totally focused on
achieving that goal.”


Though Microsoft called its announcement the most important in years, the
titan is not the first to think of creating such e-services. Sun
Microsystems Inc.
and Hewlett-Packard Co. have already begun rolling out similar Web-based services.

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