Tools vendor goes .Net, ditches product activation

Infragistics, a maker of developer tools for Java and Windows programmers, is expected to announce next week a new version of its software for building user interfaces in Windows applications, and will add support for Microsoft's .Net technology.

Concurrently, the company will announce a number of changes to the way it will sell and license its tools. Those changes include handing developers the source code to some of its products, as well as the removal of a controversial copy-protection feature in its software, known as product activation, said Infragistics Chief Executive Officer Dean Guida.

Infragistics' tools can be used to build charts, toolbars and other presentation-layer components that allow developers to design Windows-based applications that have a similar look and feel as those from Microsoft. The tools are used in conjunction with Visual Studio .Net, Microsoft's developer software.

The East Windsor, New Jersey, vendor will take the wraps off of version 1.2 of its NetAdvantage Suite. It includes software building blocks to create Windows and .Net applications, as well as a library of prebuilt components.

"There's a finite (amount of money) each developer has each year to buy development tools," Guida said, pegging that figure at about US$5,000. "About 10 to 12 percent of that market is for components. We're looking to take a proportional piece of that."

With its new upgrade, Infragistics said it would do away with product activation, a technology previously included with the software that prevented a single copy from being installed on multiple machines. Microsoft added product activation to its newest desktop operating system and Office productivity software, drawing criticism from some customers at the time.

Additionally, Infragistics has changed its software license to allow customers to install its software on an unlimited number of computers so long as they are not used concurrently, Guida said.

Customers can purchase NetAdvantage Suite at a stand-alone price of $495, or with a one-year subscription for an additional $200, which entitles them to upgrades and bug fixes.

For the first time the company is also shipping the source code of its .Net component building tools to customers who purchase the subscription plan. The source code allows developers to have access to the underlying technology, which can be useful for bug checking or as a learning aid, Guida said.

"In the Java world, sharing source code is very common," he said, noting that the trend would be beneficial to Windows developers as well.

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