Microsoft retools Visual Studio.Net

The company plans to reset its tools to work with new products expected to ship in the coming months, including Windows.Net Server and an update to the SQL Server database.

Microsoft on Thursday offered a glimpse of its new features for future versions of its Visual Studio.Net development tool bundle.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker said it plans to revamp its tools to work with new products that are expected to ship in the coming months. Those products include Windows.Net Server, the next version of Microsoft?s server operating system, and an upcoming release of the company?s SQL Server database, code-named Yukon.

The plan released on Thursday largely mirrors plans disclosed last month by Microsoft.

Visual Studio.Net, originally released in February, serves as Microsoft's chief weapon in the battle for software developers who have a choice among Microsoft's .Net Web services plan and rival software sold by Sun Microsystems, BEA Systems, Oracle, IBM and other Java backers. Web services is an emerging method of writing software that allows businesses to interact via the Internet.

Winning support of software developers is crucial for the company?s .Net plan to succeed. Microsoft last month admitted that .Net has been slow to catch on, largely because of confusion over the new architecture?s marketing.

The .Net plan includes Windows .Net Server, which has been beset by delays; a development and launching technology called the .Net Framework; a new version of the company?s Active Server Pages Web technology called ASP.Net; and other new technologies.

On Thursday, Microsoft said it plans later this year to ship a minor update to its Visual Studio.Net, code-named Everett, that will include better connections to Windows.Net Server and provide support for writing software for mobile devices, such as cell phones. The Everett release will include a Java development tool called Visual J#, along with Visual Basic.Net, Visual C++.Net and Visual C#.Net tools.

After the minor revision to Visual Studio.Net this year, Microsoft will release a more comprehensive update in late 2003 when the company expects to release Yukon. That version of Visual Studio.Net will feature new visual-design tools and will support Yukon's new data-storage architecture, which will make it easier to find and use corporate data, Microsoft has said.

Further out, Microsoft will release a third new version of Visual Studio.Net to coincide with a the 2004 release of a new version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, that will use Yukon's data-storage capability. That version will feature a new user interface.

Microsoft said it will offer a limited-time promotion that will allow companies not already signed up for its software licensing programs to acquire Everett for $29.

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