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Microsoft offers final version of .NET tools


By Matt Berger, IDG News Service

(IDG) -- Microsoft Corp. Wednesday released on its developer Web site the final version of its tools for building and deploying Web services based on its .NET initiative, paving the way for developers to move beyond the testing stage and put the technology to use.

Members of the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN), the company's subscription-based developer program, can now download Visual Studio.NET and the .NET Framework, Microsoft's key tools for building and deploying applications and services based on standards such as XML and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).

Microsoft will make the tools available to the broader developer community on February 13, both online and through retail outlets, including Comp USA Inc. stores, the company said. Visual Studio.NET will be available in three editions and will cost from $549 for an upgrade from the professional version, to $2,499 for the full enterprise version. There is no charge for .NET Framework, the software maker said.

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While Microsoft has already been adding support for such technologies as XML to its server and desktop software, the tools released yesterday provide the key to making Web services based on .NET a reality, said Eric Rudder, senior vice president for Microsoft's developer and platform division, during a keynote address at Infoworld's Web Services Conference here.

"As people try to build their Web services, I think tools are going to make the difference," Rudder said.

Broadly speaking, Web services allow applications of different types and from different vendors to communicate with one another automatically over the Internet, in part to streamline business processes. For example, a Web service might allow a travel department to book a flight with an airline, subtract funds from a bank account and then update a user's online calendar to reflect the travel plans. Web services also allow software applications to be accessed over the Internet as services, and they can run across all kinds of computers from large servers to handheld devices.

Visual Studio.NET is the latest incarnation of the company's suite of developer tools. It allows programmers to create Web services using more than 20 programming languages including Fortran and Common Object Request Broker Architecture, according to Microsoft. More than 2.5 million developers have tested the suite since it first shipped as a beta, Rudder said.

The .NET Framework provides the execution environment for .NET applications, handling basic plumbing chores such as memory management and thread management, according to information on Microsoft's Web site. The Framework's class library includes reusable code for developing programs as basic as a graphical user interface or as complex as a Web service, the company said.

"The .NET Framework is the core of everything we do," Rudder said. In addition to the version for PCs and servers released yesterday, Microsoft will release a compact version of the .NET Framework later this year for developing applications and services for small devices such as handheld computers, he said.

"I expect the .NET Framework to start showing up on more and more devices as time goes on," Rudder said.

MSDN members can download the tools immediately via the MSDN Web site, Microsoft said.


• Microsoft

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