How Microsofts .Net Framework Has Shifted Product Perspective

Microsoft's 2005 updates to Visual Studio, SQL Server redefine developers' world.

Anyone whos used Google Earth has seen the value of putting new viewpoints in context. When shifting its scene to a new location, Googles viewer zooms out to show both ends of the virtual journey. Only then does it zoom in on the destination, preserving a users sense of place much better than if it had merely jumped there.

Developers during the last few years have been treated to an equally smooth shift of viewpoint by Microsoft Corp.s Visual Studio and SQL Server, both of which were updated in long-awaited 2005 editions that launched last month. Visual Studio 2005 concludes a major shift of perspective on application development—from the 1990s world of locally networked PCs to the globally connected, diversely packaged clients that 00s users expect.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read eWEEK Labs review of Visual Studio 2005.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read eWEEK Labs review of SQL Server 2005.

Microsoft brought developers into this connected realm via innovative but incremental Visual Studio .Net releases in 2002 and 2003; it now drops the ".Net" from its tool suites name, instead emphasizing developers freedom to define a personalized subset of a broad array of tools. Microsoft has also enlisted an army of partners to fill in Visual Studio 2005s gaps and extend its capabilities.

Concurrently, SQL Server 2005 becomes almost an extension of the Visual Studio tool set with its incorporation of the CLR (Common Language Runtime) execution environment. Any coding guru knows the scene in "The Matrix" in which Trinity learns to fly a helicopter by asking for an upload of that skill set. Life imitates art as SQL Server learns to fly in the .Net space.

SQL Server 2005 also speaks to those who arent terribly interested in writing complex logic but are merely looking for a cost-effective and scalable engine for enterprise-class data storage and retrieval. In eWEEK Labs tests, it narrowed the lead in manageability and capability thats been held by more complex competitors such as Oracle Corp.s Oracle Database 10g, but it revealed added complexity of its own.

In our recent special report on the 20th anniversary of Windows, eWEEK Labs suggested that the platforms success came from replacing the problem of doing things on a PC with the problem of doing things on Windows. The integration of SQL Server 2005 into the Visual Studio 2005 programming environment is a remake of that movie. When SQL Server lives in the .Net programming space, and as Microsofts LINQ (Language Integrated Query) technology brings .Net data structures and SQL databases into a common abstraction, a developers mastery of the .Net framework and .Net-oriented tools and practices becomes the crucial skill set.

Developers can choose to live in a different world, but it wont be easy to unplug.