Microsoft, in its quest to encourage developers to build software for its services plan, makes key development tools available online.
The company said its Visual Studio.Net development tool package is available to subscribers of its Microsoft Developer Network, a Web site and fee-based subscription service for developers using Microsoft's products.
Visual Studio.Net is a revamped bundle of the company's most popular development tools, such as Visual Basic and Visual C++. The tools will be generally available Feb. 13, priced from $549 for an upgrade version to $2,499 for the full product.
Microsoft also on Wednesday posted to its Web site the .Net Framework Software Development Kit, a free set of tools and documentation for releasing .Net programs built using its Visual Studio tools.
Microsoft is turning up the volume on its delivery of .Net tools as it tries to encourage developers to build software for the new plan. The company is battling Sun Microsystems, IBM and other companies in the development tool market.
Earlier this week, the company made available tools that let developers link its Office desktop application package, which controls more than 90 percent of the desktop business software market, into Web services developed using .Net.
.Net is Microsoft's overarching plan for Web services. It includes links to the company's online properties such as MSN and bCentral--a Web site focused on small businesses--and new tools and software that business customers can buy to create their own Web services.
Ultimately, the plan will encompass Microsoft's all-important transition from dependence on one-time sales of software and upgrades to a more stable source of revenue based on recurring subscription fees through .Net My Services, a group of subscription services aimed at individuals.
While Microsoft seeds the market with tools, it is simultaneously recruiting software makers and Web site operators to use .Net technologies as the basis for their products. Tuesday, Reynolds and Reynolds, a maker of software for automobile retailers, said it would build its next products on .Net. Microsoft has also announced similar deals with Xerox, jobs site Monster.com and online auction house uBid.