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Going mobile at the Microsoft road show

Programmers Report was recently on hand for the Boston launch of Windows Server 2003 and Visual Studio .NET. Hosted by a full complement of Microsoft workers at a Back Bay hotel, the theme of the day was the new products' claimed ability to cut costs by increasing scalability and information worker productivity.

"It's really almost painless to do this type of development," said Microsoft's Russ Fustino (of Russ's Toolshed fame) during a demonstration of mobile wireless app development using Visual Studio .NET.

The central problem in wireless app development, asserted Fustino, is formatting the data to fit whatever platform it lands on, whether it's a desktop, PDA, a Web-enabled cell phone, or any other device with a unique display as well as processing and input capabilities. Microsoft's aim was to avoid a return to the days when Web developers had to make different versions of pages so that they would work on both Netscape and Explorer -- and were often forced to make further changes when new versions of the browsers were rolled out.

The solution: Connected applications termed "smart clients." To demonstrate, Fustino built a simple test application, then ran it on different mobile device emulators that mimicked each machine's capabilities and limitations. The applause-bringing result: An app that not only worked, but automatically adapted itself to its outside-world environment -- all without further tweaking from the developer.

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