Two years ago, at the high-water mark for the dot-com boom, Microsoft introduced its .Net initiative. On Wednesday, amid the debris of a shattered new economy and with Wall Street looking more like the boulevard of broken dreams, Bill Gates provided an update on where .Net, Microsoft and the technology industry are headed.
That update, provided by Gates at the Redmond, Wash., campus in an hour and fifteen minute presentation, has Microsoft about a third of the way along in providing the technologies, tools and services promised two years ago. As if on cue, Wall Street responded with a big rally Wednesday afternoon.
The .Net report card shows Microsoft getting an A for rallying the industry, an A for providing tools and infrastructure, a C for developing building block services, a C for providing software as a service, and incompletes in providing a federated .Net environment and a transformative user experience. Federated environments are computing structures where the services are distributed rather than in centralized structures.
Of course the report card provided by Gates was a lot like having the student fill out his own grades, but Gates contended that despite the dot-com demise and lackluster economy, Microsoft made the right bets two years ago and remains in a leadership position to take advantage of the computing era built around services.
"This is 100 percent a software challenge and one of the toughest we have ever tackled," Gates told some 100 technical and business journalists attending the update. He compared the software challenge as being on the same scale as placing a man on the moon or developing the Boeing 747.
On a more practical note, Gates provided his definition of what .Net encompasses.
".Net is software to connect information, people, systems and devices," Gates said repeating the definition three times. At the first .Net conference, many attendees left the event still wondering what .Net was and how Microsofts product line would encompass the .Net inititiative.