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Microsoft Gives .NET Center Stage at Comdex

LAS VEGAS – By now, most everyone has heard of Microsoft’s newest bet-the-company strategy, known as .NET. But if you were to take an informal Comdex poll of people who actually understand what .NET is, the count would be smaller than the number of votes separating George Bush and Al Gore in Florida.

To that end, Microsoft has concentrated its efforts at this year’s Comdex to educating the IT public on what .NET is, how it will affect their lives, and what it means for the future of the industry.

As always, Microsoft overshadows all other vendors with the depth and breadth of its Comdex offerings. This year, the grand theater (a venue with two giant screens and hundreds of seats for the audience) was a .NET classroom. There were, among the other offerings, .NET overviews and demonstrations of product development using the .NET developer’s tools like Visual Studio.NET. The Comdex crowd’s thirst to learn about Microsoft’s new direction was evident – there was rarely an empty seat at the theater all day.

Across the aisle from the theater were a host of kiosks that served as mini-information centers for all of Microsoft’s .NET server offerings, like BizTalk Server, Host Integration Server, Internet Security and Acceleration Server (ISA Server), Application Center 2000, SQL Server 2000 and more.

Of course, it wasn’t all .NET. One booth displayed a number of portable devices, including cell phones, PDA’s and tablets, that run various versions of Windows OS’s. Another kiosk demonstrated a new smart card reader. And of course, there was ample floor space given over to Microsoft’s developer partners to demonstrate their wares.

An important new emphasis the year for Microsoft, according to Events Manager Kari Ruff, is to “try to give people hands-on opportunities to use products.” To that end, Microsoft had set up areas where people could use the new Pocket PC, Front Page 2000, Windows 2000 and Office 2000. The lines to use those products were long as well.

Overshadowing all the other Microsoft offerings, though, was .NET. It was there in every nook and cranny, muscling its way into the public consciousness. It’s clear from this emphasis that Microsoft’s bet-the-company strategy, this time, is really that.

How quickly the public understands and, perhaps, embraces the .NET vision is open to dispute. If it doesn’t, however, it certainly won’t be from lack of effort on Microsoft’s part. – Keith Ward

About the Author

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

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