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Microsoft Announces Open Development Platform, Partners

When attempting to launch an industry-wide infrastructure overhaul, “If you build it, they will come” is probably not a good motto. Accordingly, Microsoft Corp. announced a series of partners supporting both its .NET initiative and its Visual Studio .NET development environment.

Announced today, the Visual Studio .NET Open Tools Platform is more than just a mouthful; it offers third party software vendors to integrate tools with Visual Studio. Microsoft is providing ISVs with toolkits to take advantage of both the Visual Studio interface, and Microsoft’s implementations of XML, SOAP, and other open standards.

“Open is not just about open standards,” says Robert Green, lead product manager for Visual Studio .NET at Microsoft, “open consists of a number of ways it can be extended. He believes that third party support is critical for the adoption of the .NET framework as an end-to-end infrastructure for moving data between devices. Green enumerated three ways that the Visual Studio .NET Open Tools Platform will allow third parties to extend the framework.

First, the program  allows third parties to create tools, particularly macros for extending the value within Visual Studio .NET. These tools may make developers’ jobs easier by offering plugins to speed application development, or kits for creating particular kinds of applications.

Second, Green said a number of ISVs who create development tools for languages not supported by Microsoft have pledged their support for working inside of Visual Studio .NET. Although, the environment does not support Cobol, Perl, or Perl derivative Python out of the box, products from partners will both support the .NET framework and operate within a Visual Studio .NET window. Active State Corp, which makes tools for Perl and Python, announced that it would release Visual Perl and Visual Python for Visual Studio. Fujitsu Software Corp. said that it would adapt its Cobol compiler for the environment.

Finally, application developers announced that end users will be able to customize applications using the Visual Studio .NET environment. Green compares this initiative to Visual Basic for Applications, which allows end users to customize applications with Visual Basic. Epicor Software Corp, a vendor of CRM applications, and NetIQ Corp, a network management vendor, announced this type of support.

Green expects Visual Studio .NET to launch in the second half of 2001. Although it is expect to arrive in the Whistler timeframe, he does not believe that the launches will be tied, stating “We’re going to ship Visual Studio .NET when its ready.” Green hopes that partners will also be ready to ship with Visual Studio .NET. “We’re certainly hoping as many of these guys will be as close to shipping as possible,” he says. - Christopher McConnell

About the Author

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

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