Microsoft yesterday launched the software development kit which it says will begin to deliver some of the promises of its .Net strategy.
Visual Studio .Net is the latest version of the software giant's developer tool kit, and includes Visual Basic, Visual C++ and Microsoft's Java-like C# language.
Having undergone the company's most extensive beta testing programme ever, with 2.5 million copies being evaluated, chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates described the toolkit as "among the most important [products] Microsoft has ever released".
By using Visual Studio .Net developers can easily create and deploy XML web services on the .Net platform, according to Mark Greatorex, director of the .Net development group at Microsoft.
"If it is to be at the heart of business strategy, the web must be able to deliver value. XML web services will drive the integration [of applications and data] across the business. Visual Studio .Net provides the tool set to build these services in a secure and rapid manner," he said.
Tool kits for BizTalk Server 2002 and SQL Server 2000 were also released, linking Microsoft's integration and database server software into Visual Studio .Net.
The SQL Server tool kit turns stored database procedures and other data into web services. BizTalk links data from business systems from SAP and other software makers into web services.
For companies committed to a Microsoft architecture, the release of Visual Studio .Net will be a welcome fillip, explained Bola Rotebi, lead software development analyst at industry watchers Ovum.
While Borland has delivered Delphi already, Microsoft is the first major firm to release a developer tool kit, she said. "It will allow firms to get to grips with web services, and to decide how they can fit with their business models," she added.
Employee services firm Hogg Robinson was involved with the beta testing of Visual Studio .Net. Using the tool kit, the company developed a web-based travel booking scheme which went live in January.
"It is very unusual for us to go live with something that has been developed using a beta version. But we were impressed with the stability provided by Visual Studio .Net, and were able to develop the service quickly," said Tony Berry, head of product management.
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