The .NET challenge

A host of competitors as well as federal and state government agencies have hit hard at Microsoft Corp. over the past couple of years. CEOs like Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems and Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp., to name just two, have been relentless in their criticisms of the software giant. Government agencies have filed numerous lawsuits charging Microsoft with anti-competitive and anti-consumer behavior.

With its attention fixed on the legal issues, Microsoft was losing the PR wars to the world of Java and Web standards that traversed well beyond the world of Windows. Sun, IBM and others pushed hard to convince traditional Windows corporate developers to turn to Java and its "write once, run anywhere" promise. Java became the hot language for top-notch software developers. Until the economic downturn hit full stride last year, a good Java developer could write his or her own ticket.

But now the legal problems have subsided considerably with a new administration in Washington and state attorneys general moving on to other issues. And over the past year or so, Microsoft has generated a slew of positive press with the unveiling of the .NET initiative and, perhaps most important, its decision to take a lead position in the race to support XML Web services, thereby making a Microsoft pledge to support multiple platforms more realistic.

In this issue we take a look at the status of Microsoft's development strategy on the eve of its unveiling of Visual Studio .NET at a Bill Gates-hosted event slated for this month in San Francisco. As reporters Lana Gates and Jack Vaughan point out in this month's Special Report on Microsoft development strategies, the real mettle of the company's initiative will truly be tested in the coming months as C# and related .NET technologies get into the hands of corporate developers.

In addition to Gates and Vaughan looking under the covers of .NET, our resident columnist on all matters Microsoft, consultant David Chappell, provides a sneak peek at his early examination of .NET in his latest book, Understanding .NET, A Tutorial and Analysis. The book is slated to become available this month.

Chappell says the .NET technologies present substantial challenges to developers weaned on the Visual Studio tools. But he also recommends that these programmers follow the long learning curve because .NET promises to reap huge benefits.

Corporate developers and their managers need to have as much information as possible on these new technologies to make the right decision on its use. We're confident our Special Report will help.

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.