Panel: Microsoft's .Net Has Good, Bad Points

ORLANDO (07/13/2000) - During a panel discussion at Microsoft Corp.'s Professional Developers Conference here Wednesday, several companies that sell software components said they're already developing computing services that could be "exposed" to users on the Internet via technologies such as XML and Microsoft's Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).

Corporate developers such as Tim Oliver, a senior systems analyst at General Electric Co., said they're looking forward to getting applications up and running faster by using hosted Web services similar to the ones Microsoft plans to provide as part of the Internet-based .Net computing framework it announced last month.

But Oliver said it may not be wise to use hosted Web services for vital business functions. And Buck Buchannon, a senior programmer at the U.S.

Treasury who also spoke as part of the panel discussion organized by Marietta, Ga.-based software component dealer ComponentSource Inc., said security is his biggest concern about the Web services concept.

Other users at the panel discussion said it remains unclear how their companies' network utilization would change if corporate applications make calls to computing services that reside on the Web. How predictable the network performance would be is another issue to watch, they added.

Web services are a key piece of Microsoft's .Net plan. Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, has said the new strategy will pave the way for the creation of software components that can be used by companies as building blocks for developing new applications or expanding the functionality of existing ones. The components will be able to run locally on corporate systems or at application service providers, according to Gates.

Component vendors also have some concerns about the .Net initiative, though.

For example, Microsoft hasn't made any clear statements thus far on how it will license the Web-based computing services it plans to develop and host, such as its Passport identity service.

Dean Guida, chairman and CEO at ProtoView Development Corp. in Cranbury, N.J., said he wants Microsoft to deliver licensing models and tools that will let him register and bill component usage by his customers. Some component developers said they also fear that a semicompiled development language that is part of Microsoft's .Net tools may be too easy to decompile, thus providing insufficient protection for their intellectual property.

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