Microsoft Corp. this week is marking the one-year anniversary of its Visual
Studio .NET development environment with a flurry of announcements intended
to show momentum around its latest tools.

Microsoft Corp. this week is marking the one-year anniversary of its Visual
Studio .NET development environment with a flurry of announcements intended
to show momentum around its latest tools.

Borland's Optimizeit Profiler for the .NET Framework, which was officially
announced today, can help developers spot memory leaks and other potential
problems that can hinder application performance, said George Paolini, a
general manager at Borland.

The Scotts Valley, Calif.-based tools vendor acquired the Optimizeit technology
last year from San Jose-based Redline Software Inc., better known as VMGear.

AmberPoint and Microsoft announced plans to jointly build tools to help users
manage distributed applications based on the .NET Framework. The product
is due in the second half of the year, and pricing has not been announced.
Oakland, Calif.-based AmberPoint specializes in Web services management tools.

Microsoft and AmberPoint also are working together on the integration of
AmberPoint's products with Microsoft's management software, such as the Microsoft
Operations Manager.

Another small vendor introducing a new product at the VSLive conference was
Sanctum Inc., in Santa Clara, Calif. Sanctum's AppScan Developer Edition
will integrate into Visual Studio .NET 2003, which is due for general release
in April. AppScan, which will sell for $995, tests for security defects in
code and provides descriptions of the problems and suggested fixes.

The level of interest in .NET-focused tools remains to be seen, since many
Microsoft developers are just starting to switch to the new development environment.

Brian Siler, a lead programmer analyst at Hilton Hotels Corp. in Memphis,
said his development group is about to enter the coding phase for its first
.NET project. "The initial skepticism toward [Visual Basic] .NET is fading
as we start to see how some of the new language features will make our tasks
easier," he said.

But a major concern is how to get the .NET Framework out to the company 's
geographically dispersed end users. Since they're running Windows 2000 or
XP with nonadministrative access, they can't install the framework on their
own, Siler explained.

Microsoft's Rudder today spotlighted several early adopters of .NET technology,
including Bear Stearns & Co. and Danske Bank. New York-based Bear Stearns
built a set of Web services to let its developers gain access to stock-order-processing
functionality on an IBM AS/400 system, according to Microsoft. Copenhagen-based
Danske Bank used the .NET Framework and Web services enhancements to expose
mainframe processes to partners and customers as Web services, Microsoft

Microsoft today also released a beta set of ASP.NET Starter Kits containing
sample code for applications representing typical customer usage scenarios,
such as electronic-commerce storefronts, community portals and data reporting

In addition, Microsoft announced that a public beta for a new product called
Visual Studio Tools for Office will be available next month. The new tools
will enable developers to build applications based on Word and Excel documents
using Microsoft's Visual Basic .NET and Visual C# .NET.

In other developer news, Borland this week will announce its Enterprise Studio
5 for Java, featuring integrated modeling technologies acquired from TogetherSoft
Corp. Studio 5, which will sell for $6,999, also includes Borland's JBuilder
tool, enterprise server and lightweight data store.

Last week, BEA Systems Inc. released two entry-level versions of its WebLogic
application server. The Express version can be used for building and running
Web applications that rely on Java Server Pages and Java servlets. The Workgroup
Edition is for departments with up to 20 users on projects that require full
Java 2 Enterprise Edition capabilities.

A development director at a large financial services firm who requested anonymity
said lightweight application servers and open-source tools, such as the JBoss
application server, appeal to his company. "Application servers are nearly
a commodity item," he said, "and we expect the prices to be falling rapidly
in the next year or so."


It's the platform, stupid.