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Exchange Developers Encouraged to Pursue .NET

With the release of a .NET-based Exchange 2000 Server Developer Enablement Kit at the Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) 2001, Microsoft Corp. is nudging Exchange developers toward building Web services.

The two CD kit consists of sample Exchange-based XML Web services, white papers on how to develop XML Web services, a training guide and a 90-day evaluation version of the IT Factory Development Center for Microsoft -- a Visual Studio 6 snap-in development tool.

"We certainly are encouraging the XML Web services," says Chris Baker, lead product manager for Microsoft Exchange. "Microsoft as a whole is moving toward .NET. If you start developing along this path, you're going to be in a much better position."

The kit comes as Exchange developers wonder about the direction that the major messaging platform will take. Leading up to the release of Exchange 2000 last September, Microsoft promoted its Web Storage System (WSS) to developers for building applications using unstructured data. Some examples of the types of applications using WSS were Exchange-based workflow and collaboration applications.

"We're starting to see some good traction," Baker says of applications built on WSS.

Around TechEd 2001 this June, Microsoft began showing signs that WSS development may not be the way of the future. The company began hinting that the data store for the next generation of Exchange would be built on the data store of Exchange's sister .NET Enterprise Server -- the forthcoming Yukon release of the SQL Server database.

"We will move to a common data storage infrastructure that will be based on a SQL database," Baker says. For end users, the change will be transparent, he says. IT administrators will be able to run Exchange on a standalone server, which will include the Yukon-based storage, Baker says. There will be no need for a separate Yukon server or license.

For developers, it will be different in the way that Exchange 5.5 lost its dedicated directory service to the Active Directory in Exchange 2000. The prevailing view in Microsoft is that the Exchange team will concentrate on messaging and collaboration, while the SQL team will concentrate on the problem of creating a common data storage infrastructure for structured and unstructured data.

That said, Baker contends that developers who built apps using WSS will not be stranded by the next version of Exchange, which is still several years off.

"We don't have all the details on exactly how," Baker says.

About the Author

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

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