Microsoft: .Net starting to take hold

The company announces new software tools it hopes developers will use to build Web services. "We bet the company on .Net, but we can't do it alone," an executive says.

3 min read
Microsoft announced new software tools Wednesday in hopes of persuading developers to build Web services using its .Net technology.

At Microsoft's Tech-Ed developer conference in New Orleans, Microsoft Senior Vice President Eric Rudder said the company's .Net Web services software strategy is starting to take hold. But he also said the software industry needs to do more work on Web services security, reliability and compatibility.

Rudder said Microsoft has shipped more than one million copies of Visual Studio.Net, Microsoft's new suite of software tools for building Web services that was released in February. He said the company has also attracted more than 200 software companies to build tools and software components for .Net.

Rudder appealed to developers to choose Microsoft as their Web services technology provider. Microsoft competes against IBM, Sun Microsystems, Oracle and others in selling the tools and software to build and run Web services.

"We bet the company on .Net, but we can't do it alone. We need your support," he said.

Microsoft, which has spent millions of dollars to develop and promote its .Net initiative, says Web services will provide more efficient ways for companies to build software to more easily transact business.

"Web services is pretty compelling today," Rudder said. "If you look, you can get a lot done with XML Web services today, but we know we can make things easier tomorrow."

The .Net strategy spans Microsoft's entire product family, from the Windows operating system to its online properties such as MSN for consumers and bCentral for small businesses.

The company has also waded into the consumer area with Web services, and has outlined an initiative called .Net My Services, which eventually will allow consumers to access their personal information online on any device and do everything from shopping and banking to checking their e-mail and calendar. But the initiative has been sidetracked due to internal debates over a proper business model and a lack of industry support.

Rudder announced that Web hosting companies Akamai Technologies and Exodus Communications, and anti-virus software makers McAfee and Symantec, support .Net and Microsoft's Web services specifications called the Global XML Web Services Architecture, which aims to make Web services secure and reliable. It includes WS-Security, a specification that outlines how to use existing World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) specifications XML Signature and XML Encryption. It also includes WS-Routing, which allows for messages to travel to multiple destinations.

Microsoft on Wednesday released the XML Web Services Toolkit for Exchange, allowing businesses to access information from the Exchange e-mail server and tie it with Web services. Microsoft previously released a Web services toolkit for Microsoft Office.

Microsoft also announced a new hosted Web service, called MapPoint, which allows businesses to add mapping capabilities to their applications, so customers can get a map or location through a PC or handheld device.

Rudder announced two new SQL Server products to make the database software more Web-services friendly.

The company released the test version of SQL Server 2000 Notification Services, add-on software that allows businesses to send targeted messages to their customers based on their preferences, such as sending people traffic reports every morning or notifying them when their favorite musicians release new CDs.

The messages can be sent on multiple devices, such as phones and pagers, or through e-mail and instant messaging applications, said Sheryl Tullis, Microsoft's product manager for SQL Server.

Businesses can use Microsoft's own notification technology, called .Net Alerts, or their own proprietary programs to send the information, Tullis said. The final version of the technology is expected to ship this summer.

Microsoft also announced plans to release a new version of its SQL Server database for mobile devices. The test version, available by the end of April, will support Microsoft's forthcoming .Net Compact Framework, Microsoft's technology for building Web services and other applications on mobile devices.

The new version of SQL Server 2000 Windows CE Edition version 2.0 will be easier to install and manage, and it provides a more uniform way of storing data, so it is more compatible with the larger version of SQL Server that sits on back-end corporate servers.

"Getting all the functionality of the relational database systems into the compact systems has been a challenge," Tullis said. "We're hoping this release will help pick up momentum."

Microsoft, as expected, also released Commerce Server 2002, its software for building e-commerce Web sites. The new version supports multiple languages and currencies.