Microsoft offers development tools for Mac, Web

Company readies tools for Mac OS and AJAX-style Web applications, while striving to keep Windows on forefront of "user experience."

LOS ANGELES--Even as it steers developers toward the forthcoming edition of Windows, Microsoft is building tools to write applications for the Mac OS and the Web.

At the company's Professional Developers Conference this week, Microsoft said it will allow programmers to use its latest front-end development tools to write applications that run on operating systems other than Windows Vista, the forthcoming edition of desktop Windows.

The company introduced Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere, or WPF/E, software to build applications using Microsoft's XAML page layout language in conjunction with JavaScript.

Until this week, it was thought that Microsoft's Windows Presentation Foundation, formerly code-named Avalon, could be used only to build graphics-rich applications on Windows. But because JavaScript runs on many operating systems, developers could, in theory, use WPF/E tooling to target several operating systems.

Apple's Mac OS will be one of the operating systems supported with WPF/E, as well as older versions of Windows and Microsoft Smartphone, according to Microsoft executives. And other operating systems are planned, said Forrest Key, group product manager in Microsoft's developer tools division, without confirming plans for Linux support.

"About a year ago, we realized that we needed to have a broad reach," Key said, which led to the development of WPF/E. "There will be more platforms to come."

The Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere software will be available when Windows Vista ships in the second half of next year, Key said. A prototype of the Mac OS edition is running at Microsoft now, said another Microsoft executive, who asked not to be named.

Presentation Foundation Everywhere is a subset of the full user interface tooling available in Windows Presentation Foundation on Windows and, as such, will not enable the same graphical richness as Windows. End users will need to download a "run time" for running XAML code, which will be less than 1 megabyte.

"What we found from a user experience perspective is that the best thing, clearly, is to

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