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MS fills Net strategy holes

Microsoft topped off the first day of its Professional Developers Conference in San Francisco with two acquisitions and a number of licensing agreements, all calculated to expand the capabilities of its Internet client and server software.

Microsoft topped off the first day of its Professional Developers Conference in San Francisco with two acquisitions and a number of licensing agreements, all calculated to expand the capabilities of its Internet client and server software.

First, Microsoft moved to beef up the database connectivity of its Internet products by buying database software company Aspect Software Engineering. Aspect makes dbWeb, a high-performance "middleware" product that connects Web servers to information stored in databases. Microsoft did not specify its plans for dbWeb technology but indicated that the technology will likely show up at least in its Access desktop database.

The Redmond, Washington-based company also bought Colusa Software, maker of the Omniware development tools package. Omniware includes a compiler that lets developers take software components written in programming languages such as Visual Basic and Visual C++ and create cross-platform, processor-independent component software for the Internet. Here again, Microsoft didn't detail its plans for Omniware but said it's an easy bet that the compiler will show up in its Internet development tools.

"Eventually, you'll be able to take Visual Basic code and run it cross-platform," said Rob Bennet, product manager at Microsoft. "You'll probably see [Omniware] in our Developer Studio stuff."

Microsoft didn't buy Citrix, but it did announce plans to include the company's remote client technology in Internet Explorer 3.0. That means that Explorer clients will be able to run over the Internet any application stored on a Windows NT server--that is, the application processing will occur on the server, but the interface will be displayed within the browser window on the client. Citrix's Intelligent Console Architecture (ICA) client reduces the resources required on a remote Internet client when deployed with Citrix's WinFrame server software on the Windows NT server itself.

Lastly, Microsoft licensed software from Ncompass that will let users of the Netscape Navigator 2.0 browser run ActiveX controls and, conversely, allow Internet Explorer 3.0 users to run Navigator plug-ins.