.Net Grade: Incomplete

Microsoft execs refine their vision of 2-year-old web services platform.

Microsoft Corp. still has a long way to go to meet its .Net aspirations, but the company has vision for the strategy nevertheless.

At an event here last week to discuss the 2-year-old initiative, Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates said .Net is more about building applications on networks and on protocols than on developing services.

".Net is software to connect information, people, systems and devices," Gates said in his clearest definition yet of the software-as-a-service initiative.

But while Gates addressed the demand side of applications and the commoditization of the infrastructure by giving the infrastructure ready-made to application developers, there was little talk of critical enterprise issues such as scalability and transactions, attendees said.

Dave DeBona, technical consultant for a large retailer in Columbus, Ohio, said ignoring these areas is a mistake, as security and scalability are the most important issues.

John Rymer, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc., in Cambridge, Mass., said Microsoft still has many issues to confront.

"Theyre pushing Web services, but there are other areas of the system that they didnt talk about, [and] that was disappointing," Rymer said. "They have to deal with backward compatibility with COM [Component Object Model]+ and COM. Theyre different object models and different programming models, and how those things are going to be used together is something I dont understand yet."