Microsoft Rushes the .Net

At this week's Professional Developers Conference, the software giant is expected to 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.

LOS ANGELES--Microsoft Corp. executives will use this weeks Professional Developers Conference here to make a number of .Net announcements, including 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, sources said.

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.

Bill Gates, Microsofts chairman and chief software architect, will deliver the keynote address on Tuesday morning, where he is expected to formally announce these releases. Other Microsoft executives, including Eric Rudder, vice president of technical strategy; Paul Flessner, senior vice president of the .Net Enterprise Server Division; and Bob Muglia, group vice president of the .Net Services Group, will also give keynotes on Tuesday in which they will try to motivate and encourage developers to adopt and embrace the .Net platform.

A Microsoft partner, who declined to be named, said he has already received Visual Studio .Net Release Candidate 1, which he said is of a quality "good enough to go." While it is believed that Gates has ordered the Visual Studio team to have the code released to manufacturing by the end of the year, it is not expected to be widely available until the first quarter of next year.

Earlier this year Microsoft presented several new components of .Net to developers at its Tech Ed conference in Atlanta, including the second beta of Visual Basic .Net and Visual Studio .Net, which Microsoft believed was of good enough quality for beta customers to deploy applications in production environments.

Tom Button, vice president of developer tools at Microsoft, told eWEEK at that time that he was confident the code would be released to manufacturing this year. However, he conceded that general availability could spill into next year. Microsofts internal release date is believed to be Oct. 22.

Microsoft also has recently put some meat on its .Net bones, delivering some of the first tangible .Net services on its own and its partners Web properties. The Redmond, Wash., company recently released a beta version of the next version of MSN, which surfaces some of the placeholders for its forthcoming .Net My Services, the formal name for the set of consumer services that was formerly code-named Hailstorm.

Microsoft also recently announced the preview program for its .Net Alerts Web service, the first deliverable on its .Net strategy. The company is expected to formally announce a .Net Alerts Developer Edition this week and make it broadly available for download from the Web a few weeks after that.

This would enable developers to migrate smoothly to .Net My Services by building on their initial development of .Net Alerts. The initial set of My Services will include not only the .Net Alerts notification, subscription, management and routing service, but others including .Net Address, .Net Contacts, .Net Inbox, .Net Calendar and .Net Wallet.

In addition, Microsoft is working on other .Net services that are targeted at businesses, analysts said. A set of services code-named Blizzard will provide corporate developers with business-to-business and enterprise-oriented Web services upon which to build. One analyst, who requested anonymity, said he expects Microsoft to announce Blizzard next year.