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A Paradigm Shift in Apps Creation: .NET Debuts

A Paradigm Shift in Apps Creation: .NET Debuts

On February 13, Microsoft finally unveiled the retail release of its Visual Studio .NET product. In an interesting move, Microsoft's main announcement was made in San Francisco at the VS!LIVE conference, rather than at Microsoft's corporate headquarters in Redmond. Satellite conferences were also held in several major cities, where Bill Gates' main announcement in the morning was telecast to thousands of eager developers.

Microsoft has a reputation for incorporating surprise announcements into occasions such as this, and Wednesday's event was no exception. The previous week, Microsoft had unveiled its participation in a new industry-wide standards-making body for Web services called the WS-I (www.ws-i.org). Other members of the organization include such long-time rivals as Oracle, Borland, and IBM.

Notably absent from the WS-I organization was Sun Microsystems, creators of Microsoft's chief nemesis in the software development arena - Java. "All of the nice companies are up there," said Gates, in an obvious reference to Sun's absence. The audience of die-hard Microsoft enthusiasts laughed heartily.

For existing Microsoft developers, .NET represents an enormous paradigm shift in the way that applications are created - both for Windows and the Web. In both cases, the amount of custom code that developers must write for themselves has been greatly reduced by the introduction of the .NET Framework. The Framework represents an enormous library of pre-written code into which custom .NET application developers can tap at will.

For interoperability, .NET harnesses the awesome power of XML and other, "open" Internet standards. This allows .NET-driven software to communicate with virtually any other kind of software - including Java software - via the use of so-called "Web services."

A final surprise was added to the festivities when Microsoft disclosed that - in the final release of .NET - execution of code downloaded off the Internet will be disabled by default. This is not, however, as blatant a contradiction to the value propositions of .NET as some have attempted to portray it.

The real focus of .NET is on Web services - which involve the interoperation of separate, very different pieces of software across the Internet. Nothing in the new default setting for .NET security will limit this in any way, shape, or form. Instead, the new .NET security setting will simply prevent the use of so-called "Mobile Code" in instances when the identity of the code's author is unknown. This is no different than a setting that already been the default on Internet Explorer for years which prevents the execution of ActiveX controls - in many ways the direct ancestors to Microsoft's current .NET technologies - from being executed under similar circumstances.

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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