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NEWS ANALYSIS -- Psst: .NET's far ahead of rivals

I know I'm about to offend some people in the next 90 seconds or so. But sometimes the truth can be uncomfortable.

Microsoft’s .NET technology is at least six months ahead of its rivals. It’s more complete, more ready and more widely deployed than any of its Web services framework competitors. There is no J2EE application server product, or ''platform family'' even close to the breadth of .NET’s usable ''developers desktop'' functionality. Even worse--there are more real Web services applications in production built on .NET than on any alternative platform. The .NET platform is ahead in tooling, middleware services, integration services and process management services.

Naturally I don't expect you to take my word for it. So here's a test. Phone up Microsoft and ask for .NET. They'll ship it to you. If you splash out on MSDN you'll get the OS, tools, database, the process engine and a host of other goodies (including about a gig of searchable documentation and examples) in one box, on a handful of DVDs within 72 hours. Now phone a competitor. Go on--I dare you!

You'll find that only one vendor--IBM--is even close.

There, I've said it. I'm not happy with this situation. While I don't subscribe to the rather sad ''Microsoft is bad, anything else is good'' mantra of some, I do believe that technology buyers deserve and need a choice.

Suppliers claiming to be ahead of .NET are either deceiving you or deceiving themselves.

The challenge for Microsoft is to maintain the uphill ''mindshare'' battle like it did back in 2000 when COM+ was released. At the time, COM+ offered the richest, most integrated suite of middleware services ever seen, but no one was willing to believe Microsoft. The same is true with .NET today. Microsoft ''brand'' issues mean that when Java-supporting CEO X gets up on stage and claims (falsely as mentioned above) that ''We're way ahead of Dot-Net'' a round of applause is guaranteed.

Microsoft's challenge is to take the hard road of brand rebuilding, to chip away at the fallacious objections one by one until the time when rational comparison becomes politically acceptable again.

The challenge faced by builders of alternative technologies is to face up to cold, hard reality--stop bleating about Microsoft and get on with the job of delivering technology, not talk. The sooner this process begins the better it will be for all of us, since Microsoft is already making good progress on its 'to-do' list.

(And no, I'm not paid by Microsoft. Microsoft hasn't helped me with this piece. Indeed, no one at Microsoft has even seen it. And I'm a Linux user by personal preference, but then again, I am a bit of a geek.)

About the Author

Gary Barnett is IT research director at Ovum Ltd., a United Kingdom-based consulting firm.

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