2003: The Year of .NET?

Microsoft Corp. outlined much of its .NET Web Services roadmap this summer at TechEd 2001. Roughly a year after announcing .NET in June 2000, the company says .NET will take off in 2003.

"I think the market will really be hitting its stride," Paul Flessner, senior vice president for Microsoft's .NET Enterprise Servers, says of the 2003 timeframe.

Barry Goffe, group product manager for Microsoft's .NET Enterprise Servers, says that timeframe gives Microsoft time to get the tools in front of customers, and gives customers time to use them.

"It's end of 2001, early 2002 when we've rolled out the full suite of servers, operating systems, services. It gives people a year to really get going and build those applications and get those applications into production," Goffe says, noting: "With the enterprise, it takes two years, three years to deploy a huge line-of-business application."

One of the key deliverables on Microsoft's .NET roadmap is Visual Studio .NET and the Microsoft .NET Framework, which is the run-time environment for .NET programs and components.

One of the first key delivery dates for Microsoft was to meet a promise to get the Beta 2 version of Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Framework into testers hands at TechEd 2001 in late June. Redmond sort of delivered.

Attendees got the CDs a few days into the conference, but Microsoft had to reissue them a few weeks later because of a "time-bomb" bug that was set to go off July 31.

Still, delivering the CDs came after Microsoft had begun saying that the disks might not be ready for the show.

Another flap arose during the conference when Flessner suggested that Visual Studio .NET, and the .NET Framework, might not be ready until early 2002. The next day, Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates assured the show's attendees that Visual Studio .NET would be ready this calendar year.

Also at TechEd, Microsoft disclosed when the .NET Framework will be integrated into its operating system products.

The next version of Windows 2000 Server, now called Windows .NET Server (formerly known as Whistler Server and Windows 2002), will include the .NET Framework. That operating system is expected to ship in early 2002.

Windows XP, the client operating system slated to ship Oct. 25, is feature complete and will not include the .NET Framework. So it will presumably be the Blackcomb version of the operating system before the .NET Framework is included as part of the client operating system.

Other components of the roadmap that are supposed to ship in 2002 include HailStorm or Microsoft Foundation Services. That group of Web-based services will build on current offerings such as Passport to make users' data accessible via the Web.

Also coming in 2002 are the Common Language Runtime and ASP.NET.

Still to come in 2003 are deep XML integration into the next version of SQL Server, codenamed Yukon and an XML design surface.

Analyst Mark Driver with Component Source. The views at Gartner are also roughly in line with what Microsoft is projecting about adoption timeframes.

"We really don't see Web services as a business model taking off until the latter half of next year and probably the 2003 or 2004 model just because of the issues around licensing and business models," Driver says. --

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About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.