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Developers: What .Net will cost you

Microsoft gives the first details of what it will charge software developers to build applications linked to its .Net My Services Web services plan.

Microsoft on Tuesday announced the first details of what it will charge software developers to build applications linked to its .Net My Services Web services plan.

As previously reported by CNET News.com, Microsoft expects to earn most of its profits from .Net My Services through subscriptions charged to consumers. But the company will charge fees to business partners and developers to gain access to .Net My Services customers.

Bob Muglia, group vice president of Microsoft's .Net Services Group, said the company will offer three levels of pricing to developers, largely based on service-level agreements that will specify the number of services developers can access.

.Net My Services defines a range of services available to consumers, from online calendar and contact-list access, to document storage and electronic-wallet services. Developers can choose to support some or all of those in the applications they develop and will be charged accordingly.

Muglia said for entry-level, small-scale applications, Microsoft will charge developers $1,000 a year for access to .Net My Services and $250 per application they create.

For standard use, which Microsoft expects will involve the majority of users, Microsoft will charge $10,000 per year for using .Net My Services and $1,500 per application.

The company will also offer a third level of custom pricing for customers who have higher-end, or more custom, needs, Muglia said.

"For people who are doing serious business with this--companies using it for mission-critical needs and need a higher degree of quick support turnaround--we will have custom pricing," Muglia told CNET News.com.

For example, Muglia said he expects to work out custom pricing for telecommunications provider Verizon, which on Tuesday announced plans to use Microsoft technology to offer Web services to its business and consumer telecommunications customers.

"I think the numbers are quite reasonable. The applications are putting a load on us," Muglia said. "These numbers are barely covering (our costs)...We're not making money with these numbers. We want to make it as friction-free as possible to adopt this new platform."

Analysts have raised questions about Microsoft's ability to provide a service as wide-ranging as .Net My Services and keep it secure. The company is constructing multiple data centers to house information related to the service, and it will recruit partner companies to offer services and host customer data.

See special report: The Gatekeeper: Windows XP The company in the second quarter of next year will test its data-center technology, Muglia said. The data centers will go live in the fourth quarter of next year.

Muglia also said the company will offer business Web services in the future, including the handling of purchase orders over the Web, but declined to give further details.

Muglia reiterated that the bulk of the revenue needed to keep .Net My Services running will come from customers. "We think the predominant place is to focus on users' value and charging end users (customers) for that value."

.Net My Services is a key element in an overarching plan, called Microsoft.Net, for moving business computing to the Web. Microsoft .Net touches nearly all of Microsoft's products, services, Web sites and development efforts. It includes a new blueprint for how software should be designed; a set of products for building that software; and .Net My Services, an initial set of Microsoft-hosted services. The company late next year plans to offer content, shopping, banking, entertainment and other Internet services through a variety of devices, all linked to Microsoft's Passport authentication service.

Microsoft says customers who sign up for .Net My Services, expected to debut in full next year, can expect to eventually get one-step access to electronic documents, contact lists and calendars; instant alerts on stock changes, weather forecasts and flight delays; and automated transactions, such as online banking, ticket purchases and stock trades, from Microsoft and its partners.