In Microsoft's first major attempt to push .NET to developers, the company pulled out all the stops this week at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles, telling the 6800 attendees that they are key to the company's Web-services future. Microsoft introduced a wide range of information about the .NET technologies yesterday, including new security features, features for consumers and businesses, and plans to integrate non-PC devices such as cell phones and PDAs. The company also rolled out a near-final version of Visual Studio.NET, its upcoming developer suite.

"Our mission is simple: Enable developers to be at the forefront of the XML Web services revolution with powerful, productive tools that deliver business value fast," Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said during yesterday's keynote address. "Customers are demanding a software platform that not only delivers world-class client, server, and service solutions, but also makes it easy for these solutions to work with each other and with existing investments. .NET delivers on these goals, breaking down the complexity of integration and helping developers use the power of XML Web services to solve business problems quickly and effectively."

Gates announced the following .NET technologies yesterday: Visual Studio .NET and .NET Frameworks Release Candidate 1 (RC1); an extension of .NET for smart devices that will bring .NET Web services and the upcoming user experience to smart phones and PDAs such as the Pocket PC; the .NET My Services software development kit (SDK) technology preview, which gives developers the tools they need to create personalized applications, devices, and services; the .NET Alerts SDK; the .NET Speech SDK technology preview for voice-enabling Web applications; the Commerce Server 2002 technology preview; several XML-based technologies for SQL Server, Web services, and Web applications; the Tablet PC Beta SDK, for pen- and speech-enabled applications; the Office XP Web Services Toolkit, for integrating Web services with Office applications; and the Visual Studio.NET Toolkit for Windows XP, which gives .NET developers the tools and information they need to harness new XP features such as realtime communication, CD burning, and server-based software downloads.

The list is hefty and difficult to take in even at an executive-summary level, but Microsoft says that its .NET rollout is now in full swing. This week, along with the XP launch, Microsoft expects to release its first few .NET My Services. But XP won't be a fully .NET-enabled client. In early 2003, according to Gates, Microsoft will release the follow-up to XP, code-named Longhorn. This release will feature more peer-to-peer technologies and a new .NET-based UI, which Gates referred to as "an advanced presentation environment." New versions of the Windows Server products and Visual Studio will also accompany Longhorn, Gates said.