Responding to complaints that his company's Microsoft .NET strategy is in disarray, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates said yesterday that realizing the promise of this new technology would take at least 4 or 5 years. Gates made the comments during a presentation to more than 300 researchers at Microsoft's third annual Microsoft Research (MSR) Faculty Summit.

".NET is not an overnight thing," Gates said. "A lot of work needs to be done to put standards such as reliable messaging and transaction support in place. We have a commitment to XML to allow for information exchange."

However, there's been a palpable shift in the software giant's priorities lately. Initiatives such as Trustworthy Computing that directly affect Microsoft's current products seem to be getting more attention than less immediate technologies, such as the more far-reaching .NET, especially during public presentations. But .NET, of course, is one of Gates's "bet-the-company initiatives," and it's only a matter of time before the company begins touting its next .NET developer tool, toolkit, application, service, or server. The company might better serve its customers, however, by announcing a detailed rollout strategy for .NET that makes sense to developers, IT administrators, and consumers--the core customers who will use the .NET products.