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TechEd keynote: Microsoft bets it all on .NET

Meredith B. Derby, assistant news editor

Microsoft CEO Bill Gates has "bet the company on .NET," said Microsoft evangelist Eric Rudder in the opening keynote address at Microsoft TechEd 2002 in New Orleans today.

So far, businesses have backed that bet. In a presentation packed with product announcements and customer testimonials, Rudder announced that one million units of Visual Studio .NET and .NET Framework have shipped since their Feb. 13 release.

Microsoft is firmly committed to XML-based Web services and .NET, said Rudder, senior vice president of Microsoft's Developer and Platform Evangelism Group. He told conference attendees that, together, .NET and Web services will "provide anytime, anywhere, any device computing."

Rudder unveiled several new Microsoft products based on the .NET platform. These included Commerce Server 2002, SQL Server CE 2.0, SQL Server 2000 Notification Services, Exchange 2000 Server XML Web services Toolkit and MapPoint .NET 2.0.

Anchoring the product line is Commerce Server 2002, now shipping, which provides global online business support for Web services, said Rudder. Extending Web services will be SQL Server CE 2.0, which extends data management to compact devices. SQL Server 2000 Notification Services allows development of end user notification via SMTP, instant messenger or .NET alerts based on the end user's personal subscriptions. Both new SQL products are available in beta versions.

The new Exchange 2000 Server XML Web Services

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Toolkit, available now, brings collaboration to .NET-based applications using Exchange 2000. MapPoint .NET 2.0 is a programmable platform for mapping location-based services. It's a commercial SOAP/XML Web service available on a pay-as-you-go basis, said Rudder.

Customers will have to wait for Microsoft Windows .NET Server, which will ship later this year, according to Rudder. Other .NET-related products on the way include .NET My Services, .NET Compact Framework and .NET Smart Device Extensions.

Rudder rolled out a bandwagon full of customers, including FrontRange Solutions, Inc. and Citigroup's Salomon Smith Barney. For example, FrontRange Solutions Inc., maker of the GoldMine and HEAT CRM products, has built its CRM strategy on the .NET framework. Also, Microsoft helped Saloman Smith Barney build a data delivery platform consisting of 250 sources of financial data on the .NET platform.

Although Rudder's presentation was jam-packed with demos, testimonials, and announcements, audience members felt that something was missing. That something, or someone, was Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. The excitement level was low, said several IT professionals exiting the auditorium. "It was not as exciting as Bill's last year," said an IT manager from Merrill Lynch, referring to Bill Gates' opening keynote at TechEd 2001 in Atlanta. "This keynote had no flash."

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