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The Evolution of .NET

The Evolution of .NET

I am writing this on the morning of the day on which Microsoft will officially launch Visual Studio 2005, along with SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk 2006. I think that it is fair to say that this is the most important technology launch in the history of Microsoft - and I'll tell you why!

I began programming on the Microsoft platform with Visual Basic 3.0. It was just something that I did for fun while studying decidedly "less fun" things like UNIX C and MVS COBOL as a Computer Science major at DePaul University. As it turned out, my bit of fun was what got me hired into my first real job out of college. My estimation of Microsoft went up instantly!

At my first job, I was able to deliver better-looking applications in a fraction of the time that the other developers took. What was my secret weapon? I used Visual Basic 4, 5, and 6 (and Active Server Pages, once they became available) while my co-workers used... UNIX C. One line of code to create a window versus one thousand lines is always a compelling value proposition, I have found!

After Visual Basic 6, I started getting into Java. VB had gotten me into the world of Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), but Microsoft didn't seem to be doing nearly as much with it as the folks at Sun were doing with their new platform. For a couple of years, I "drank the other Kool Aid," but found publishers were annoyingly insistent upon publishing books only about Microsoft technologies.

As a part of my publishing work, I was called out to Redmond to see a technology that the public had not yet seen called ASP+. I was dumbfounded, stupefied, and utterly impressed! Microsoft had taken the power of Java and served it up with an ease of use that Sun and their cohorts (particularly IBM) stood no chance of ever understanding. I returned to the Microsoft fold in an instant.

The way I saw it, Visual Studio .NET in 2002 was simply notice to the world that Microsoft had an alternative to Java. It was not necessarily enough of an improvement to warrant switching if you were already building on Java. However, if you were on the Microsoft platform and hadn't yet abandoned ship, this seemed like a better bet, given that it was as good as Java and would require a heck of a lot less effort.

Visual Studio 2003 was the release that said, "this isn't just an alternative, it is the way to develop applications for the Microsoft platform." Up until this point, people had still somewhat viewed .NET as a bit of an experiment. This release underscored the fact that Microsoft was betting the company on this new way of doing things - particularly when Microsoft's Professional Developer's Conference in 2003 demonstrated that all new technologies coming out of Redmond over the next several years would be using this as their basis.

So, here we are, a couple (almost a few) years later, on the brink of .NET 2.0's official entrance into the world. With this release, we will - for the first time - have a platform that is demonstrably bigger, more fully featured, and (dare I say it) better than any of the offerings in the Java world or its related communities. My particular area of specialization, for example - mobility - has no effective competition anywhere in terms of features and performance.

It is a good time to be a .NET developer! So, as we head into 2006, get ready to rumble!

More Stories By Derek Ferguson

Derek Ferguson, founding editor and editor-in-chief of .Net Developer's Journal, is a noted technology expert and former Microsoft MVP.

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Most Recent Comments
Thomas Varghese 11/24/05 12:58:01 AM EST

It seems the Author's visit to Microsoft sums it all - simply sycophancy. The article does not explain or it does not come through why and how the VS 2005 is the most important ms technology.

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