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Mobile Development Platform Launches

Microsoft formally launched the .NET Compact Framework for supporting and creating mobile applications on Wednesday at the Microsoft Mobility Developers Conference. Redmond has been talking about the framework for a year, with beta releases in April and September and an official Release to Manufacturing in October.

The compact framework runs on mobile devices running the Windows CE 4.1 and later and PocketPC 2000 and later operating systems. To ship integrated with Visual Studio 2003, the framework integrates with the general .NET Framework and provides a consistent programming model for developers to use across all Microsoft operating systems. Visual Studio 2003 will launch simultaneously with Windows Server 2003 on April 24.

Features of the .NET Compact Framework include support for XML and Web services, the ability to integrate components written in many programming languages, integrated device emulator support, a visual drag-and-drop forms designer, user interface controls and remote debugging support.

Between the September Beta 2 phase and the October RTM, Microsoft also added a data grid feature, which is an Excel-like grid for easy readability.

Microsoft gave a demonstration Wednesday of a future version of the .NET Compact Framework for the Smartphone platform, which is not supported in the current mobile framework. The company also launched a promotion for distributing ViewSonic V37 Pocket PC devices to 25,000 developers to boost interest in the platform.

Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates, in his conference keynote, expressed hopes that the ease-of-use of the .NET Compact Framework would ignite developer interest in creating mobile applications. "Just as Visual Basic sparked a wave of innovation in business applications and made the PC an essential business tool, Visual Studio .NET 2003 and the .NET Compact Framework will unlock the potential of Web services and rich data on smart devices."

About the Author

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

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