MS to Detail .Net Vision at ISPCon on Friday

In anticipation of its keynote speech at ISPCon on Friday, Microsoft previewed how it hopes to win over ISPs (Internet service providers) and ASPs (application service providers) to its Windows 2000 Platform for the ISP market.

In the speech to be delivered by Microsoft Senior Vice President, Brian Valentine, the software giant will outline its plans to offer hosters a free copy of Windows 2000 Advanced Server and one free copy of the Windows 2000 resource kit packaged along with discounts on training and support, Microsoft said in a statement on Wednesday.

"That's about a US$4,000 savings. This offer has been in the planning stages for awhile but we're making the announcement at ISPCon," a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

According to the spokeswoman, Microsoft decided to preview the Valentine speech in the news release as a way to highlight what the company is doing at the conference overall and in part, because "no one picks up news on Friday."

She added, "There might be a surprise in the speech, that's all I'm saying."

Microsoft is looking to win over the ISP audience, particularly with its .Net offering. As outlined by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates upon its launch in June, Microsoft's .Net program is an effort to turn the Internet into a big development platform on which a variety of services and information can be distributed and shared among devices including PCs, smart phones and handheld computers.

Microsoft provides client and server software to access the .Net services, "building block" services, such as its Passport user authentication system, which can be used by other companies to create online services of their own. The initiative also includes "dot-net" versions of Microsoft software including new interface features to help users interact with the services, and advanced support for technologies like XML (Extensible Markup Language), a key enabler in the .Net platform.

The Windows 2000 Server integrates all of the .Net offerings and Microsoft is keen to convince hosting companies that the financial costs of upgrading hosting services to Windows 2000 will pay off in the short term because the platform is so scalable, reliable and cost-effective, Microsoft said.

Microsoft concedes that for many hosters, their experiences with Windows NT wasn't as smooth and effective as they wanted and as a result, Microsoft's biggest challenge is to now convince those hosters that Windows 2000 and .Net is the way to "carve out their piece of the ISP pie," according to Microsoft's spokeswoman.

Valentine's speech will also focus on a study by the Atlanta-based ASP Interland Inc. painting the financial picture of upgrading its hosting services to Windows 2000 Server. The study, to be officially released at ISPCon, provides what Microsoft sees as the independent numbers it needs to back up its cause, Microsoft's spokeswoman said.

According to the study -- which Microsoft takes pains to point out, was validated by the Giga Information Group Inc. -- Interland's shift to Windows 2000 has enabled the company to host four times as many Web sites. Among other findings, application development time fell by 33 percent while IT and management operating costs went down 35 percent, Microsoft said.

In terms of winning over ISPs to Windows 2000, it all comes down to costs and earnings, and if Microsoft can get the numbers out, get past "perceived religious issues" and prove to be a cost saver, Microsoft believes it can corner the rapidly growing ISP market, the spokeswoman said.

ISPCon runs from Nov. 6-10. More information on the conference can be found online at http://www.ispcon.com/.

Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached on the Web at http://www.microsoft.com/.

Interland, in Atlanta, Georgia can be contacted on the Web at http://wwww.interland.com/.

Giga Information Group, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, can be reached on the Web at http://www.gigaweb.com/.

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