Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates on Tuesday formally announced Microsoft Visual Studio .NET, touting it as perhaps the best product available for developing and delivering Web services.
Gates kicked off the VSLive 2002 Conference in San Francisco by calling Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Framework two of Microsofts most important products—products with which the company will rally its base of developers to support its Web services strategy known as .NET.
Gates called Web services "the key to productivity that spans the entire economy," and said Visual Studio .NET is the first tool for XML Web services.
Tom Button, vice president of the Microsoft developer and platform evangelism division, said he expects that more than 2 million developers will adopt Visual Studio .NET as their primary toolset this year. But he added that the tools are basically the "enabler" or the strategy to help developers be successful creating applications.
"The tools are not the high order business value for us," Button said. "We see it as a way to get our design time technology in front of developers. The platforms are where we make money."
Gates said Visual Studio .Net and the .NET Framework "underscore our long-term commitment to developers" and "as the first fully integrated environment for building XML Web services and next generation Internet applications," the two technologies "will enable the next big wave of developer opportunity, creating XML Web services that will soon become the basis for all major new software development."
Meanwhile, as if to fend off early criticism that Microsoft has lacked enterprise references for its new technology, the company referred to a series of enterprise customers that have been successful using the .NET technology.
Also, in addition to delivering its own technology, Microsoft announced that partners such as Borland Software Corp., Macromedia Inc., Groove Networks, Computer Associates, IBM, and SAP would deliver add-on products.
Borland announced that its Delphi and C++ Builder would target the .NET Framework and Macromedia announced its Dreamweaver UltraDev tool would target ASP.NET.
Gates said the entire Microsoft research and development budget of $5 billion is focused on the goals of .NET.
Gates touted the Common Language Runtime (CLR), which includes support for more than 20 programming languages including Microsofts Visual Basic .NET, C#, J#, and Visual C++, along with others such as Perl, Smalltalk, Pascal Eiffel and others.
"It has one integrated development environment, one framework, and one debugger," Gates said to applause from the packed audience of developers.
Among the add-on toolkits Microsoft mentioned in the launch is the add-on capability of using Visual Studio .NET to bring Web services delivering functionality out of existing Microsoft technology such as BizTalk and SQL Server.
Using Visual Studio .NET, Scott Woodgate, a technical product manager at Microsoft, demonstrated how a developer could take a business process from the orchestration designer in the BizTalk Server 2002 toolkit and turn it into a Web service and make it available to any client.
In the same vein, using the XML Web services toolkit, a stored procedure from SQL Server can be turned into a Web service, Woodgate said.
The ability to cut down on coding is part of what drew LOreal to .NET, said Holly Preuss, the companys Internet technology manager.
"The beauty of it was that pieces of the work was already done for you. Using Visual Studio .NET we were able to cut coding down by 50 percent," she said.