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Yes, as odd as it sounds, Microsoft .NET architecture is coming to the open source Linux community.

The Mono Project (http://www.go-mono.com) is an effort to take Microsoft's published .NET specifications and port them to the Linux operating system. .NET is Microsoft's framework for treating applications as Web Services. In theory, an application designed for the Microsoft .NET platform should be able run on the Linux Mono counterpart with little or no change.

Two outstanding issues will challenge the proof of Mono's viability. First, Mono is dependent on how consistent the project adheres to the Microsoft architectural specifications. As an open source project, maintaining architectural consistency could be difficult. Second, to assure inter-platform interoperability, Microsoft will need to reframe from its normal practice of adding unpublished extensions that benefits its own Windows environments.

Linux vendor Ximian is taking the lead in the Mono development effort. The company has already established its commitment to assuring Linux and Windows interoperability on the desktop with Evolution and Ximian Connector, which already mirror functionality and transparent connectivity to Microsoft platforms like Exchange Server and Outlook. Ximian's efforts with Mono bring the interplay of Linux and Windows down to the architectural layer.

According to Ximian Vice President of Marketing Jon Parr, "We view Mono as a way to encourage Windows developers to take a serious look at Linux. We also believe that once IT managers truly understand that Linux and Windows can exist side by side, we will begin to erode Microsoft desktop dominance."

Not surprisingly, Microsoft has an opposite view. An anonymous Microsoft .NET program manager confided that by making .NET available to the open source community, the architecture would become the standard. In turn, this should drive the sales of the Microsoft .NET Enterprise Service product line.

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