LOS ANGELES – Microsoft Corp. executives started the spin around the companys .Net platform and vision here Monday, citing a range of figures that they claim indicates the broad adoption of .Net and its potential going forward.
In an address to the media before the companys Professional Developers Conference formally opens here on Tuesday with a keynote by Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates -- who is expected to formally announce the availability of Release Candidate 1 of Visual Studio .Net, the .Net My Services software developers kit and a version of the .Net Compact Framework -- Bob Muglia, Microsofts group vice president of .Net Services, said more than 2.5 million developers worldwide have been involved in the beta testing program for Visual Studio .Net and the .Net Framework.
Visual Studio .Net is the centerpiece tool set for building .Net applications, while the .Net Compact Framework will provide developers with a base set of services upon which to design mobile/wireless applications.
In addition, more than 5,000 customers, including Credit Suisse First Boston, Marks & Spencer and Pacific Life, have deployed production solutions using the beta version of ASP .Net. Some 60 Visual Studio Integrator Program partners like Active State, Compuware and Rational are also actively building products that plug in and extend the Visual Studio .Net environment, Muglia added.
Plus, more than 25 application hosting companies like EDS and Brinkster are offering services to host .Net applications online, he said.
Microsoft also announced that Trans World Entertainment Corp. will employ Microsoft .Net and Windows Media technology and the Windows XP operating system across its "FYE" branded music and video retail sites to deliver " a richer music-shopping experience."
Through its "eWorks" initiative, FYE will deploy more than 25,000 Windows XP-based listening and viewing stations and kiosks in its stores, as well as Passport authentication and sign-in, Microsoft and Trans World said in a joint statement.
Charles Fitzgerald, the general manager of Microsofts .Net Platform strategy group, told the media at a press briefing here Monday that 6,500 developers from 71 countries have signed up to attend the PDC, its top developer conference.
In a speech designed to provide an overview of the companys .Net vision, but which contained little new information, he said: "We, as an industry used to focus on a single box, but now we are having to focus on a broad constellation of devices and technologies that all integrate together. Extensible Markup Language [XML] is fundamental to this. It is a text-based file system that lets us express info in a way thats easy for computers to understand."
XML Web services allow different arbitrary devices and technologies to talk to one another. Technologies like SOAP, WSDL and UDDI are built on top of XML and are simple, open and non-platform specific, he said.
.Net provides a consistent programming model that includes the client, server and services as well as tools. "We believe that the next generation of industry investment will reside in smart clients that will be XML and service aware, work well alone or with others and, hopefully, be Windows powered," Fitzgerald said.
PC still smartest of smart devices
The PC will continue to be the "smartest of smart devices," but other smart devices like PDAs and cell phones are the way of the future, he said. "This week Windows XP shipped; work continues on the Tablet PC; on the device side theres the Pocket PC, Ultimate TV and the Auto PC. Enablers like Embedded Windows and the Windows CE operating system will continue to be developed as well as the .Net Framework in those environments," Fitzgerald said.
The .Net Enterprise Servers, which Fitzgerald said will ship in the first half of next year, will provide the foundation for the agile enterprise.
The idea of services as part of Microsofts platform is a new concept that resulted from the popularity of Microsofts single sign-in and authentication technology known as Passport. As a result of this, Microsoft identified the need to provide a set of .Net building block services, for both consumers and businesses.
"A tectonic shift is taking place as the industry moves to a decentralized, distributed model that has smart clients and is software-driven [and] allows user-to-application and application-to-application interaction. Microsoft is also building applications and services on the .Net platform and is bringing together the client, server and services," he concluded.