Last week, I joined 6800 other attendees at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles. Historically, Microsoft has used PDC to reveal futuristic and nondisclosure-type information. The company has made many public announcements at the conference, and this year was no exception. The day before PDC started, Microsoft executives updated the press about the company's plans.

Microsoft revealed its plans for the Microsoft .NET Framework 16 months ago, and Microsoft Visual Studio.NET (VS.NET), the tool that developers will use to create .NET applications, is close to shipping. In fact, PDC attendees received release candidates of VS.NET and the .NET Framework. Attendees also received technical previews (betas) for a wide range of .NET technologies, including the first developer release of .NET My Services (formerly code-named Hailstorm) and the .NET Compact Framework, which brings .NET to a variety of smart devices, such as Pocket PC handhelds.

The theme of this year's conference was XML Web services and, as expected, Microsoft has made it easy for software developers to write XML Web services. During Bill Gates' keynote address, Anders Hielsberg, a Microsoft Distinguished Engineer, created a simple Web service that accessed a database. From VS.NET, Hielsberg created a Win32 client (Windows, as opposed to Web application) in Microsoft's relatively new C# language, then added a reference to the Web service that VS.NET treated as a COM object—a behavior familiar to the developers in the audience. Hielsberg then consumed the Web service (i.e., automatically integrated references to the Web service by adding it to his VS.NET project) from his application without writing one line of code and demonstrated VS.NET's zero-touch deployment features to deploy the application from a Web page. His demonstration was so powerful and impressive that I plan to recreate it at the Microsoft Developer Days conference this week.

Why am I writing about a developer conference in IIS Administrator UPDATE? Because .NET is real—it's happening now—and it will be your job to securely deploy the wide range of .NET technologies. In his keynote address, Gates told the audience that more than 5000 people have signed up for ASP.NET Web Services Go Live licenses, which will let them deploy production solutions on the beta release of the .NET platform. In addition, more than 2.5 million developers are participating in the beta testing of VS.NET and the .NET Framework. Microsoft has built many of its major Internet properties with .NET platform technologies, including MSN Music; MSN eShop; MSN Yellow Pages; Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI); Microsoft.com Search; The GotDotNet Web site; and Microsoft Office Update. It's just a matter of time until the company converts all its Internet properties to .NET. So, if you haven't already began planning the deployment of .NET applications, you'd better get started.

I'll cover the deployment of .NET applications on IIS in many of the upcoming issues of IIS Administrator UPDATE. If you're one of the lucky IIS administrators who supports developers who are going live on a beta .NET platform, stay tuned.