MS Releases Public Beta of Tools for Web Services

Beating the drum for its new Web development initiative, Microsoft Corp. made the first public beta of its .Net Framework and Visual Studio.Net tool set available to developers at Comdex/Fall 2000 this week.

The software firm is less than half a year into its .Net Framework undertaking, a massive project that aims to transform applications into services that are shared over the Web through computers and a host of small computing devices.

"It's an evolutionary path for C developers, for Visual Basic developers, for Java developers -- whatever you develop in, we give you an evolutionary step that fits in with the framework that we're building here," said Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, in his keynote address Sunday. "But it is a really radical advance in the language -- the advance brought by the idea of XML and Web services."

Microsoft is backing its .Net initiative with US$100 million in research and development spending, Gates added.

The .Net Framework's success will also depend on whether it gains wide support among key industry development application tools vendors and international standards organizations.

Microsoft also announced yesterday that it has formally submitted the specification for its C# object-oriented development language and its Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) to ECMA, an international standards organization in Geneva. Longtime Microsoft partisans Intel Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. co-sponsored the C# and CLI specifications.

Industry standards such as XML, HTML and Simple Object Access Protocol -- a proposed standard that allows remote procedure calls to ferry past Web site firewalls and to swap services with other computing environments -- are key building blocks that weave the various parts of .Net together, analysts said.

Microsoft's .Net thrust at Comdex also showcased a reservations application developed using the tools for Dollar Rent A Car Systems Inc., a subsidiary of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. in Tulsa, Okla.

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