.NET UPDATE—brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine, the leading publication for IT professionals deploying Windows and related technologies.
THIS ISSUE SPONSORED BY
Free White Paper from Microsoft and NetIQ
VeriSign — The Value of Trust
SPONSOR: FREE WHITE PAPER FROM MICROSOFT AND NETIQ
Resolve Performance Problems Faster – Free White Paper from Microsoft and NetIQ. Need to ensure your servers and applications are ALWAYS performing at their peak? Want to resolve problems quickly? Learn how! Read the free performance white paper, written by NetIQ and Microsoft. You'll discover how to optimize the performance and availability of your entire IT infrastructure—while reducing the burden on your IT staff. Download the free white paper now!
June 27, 2002—In this issue:
- There but for the Grace of the Legal System Go We
2. .NET NEWS AND VIEWS
- Confirmed: Longhorn Will Be Major, Innovative Windows Release
3. DOT-TECH PERSPECTIVES
- Wanted: User Applications for .NET
- Windows Scripting Solutions for the Systems Administrator
- SQL Server Magazine—Get Your Free Preview Issue
- Event Highlight: VS.NET Connections
6. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Identify the Cause of Software Failures
- Submit Top Product Ideas
7. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, news editor, [email protected])
In a meeting with Microsoft officials last week, I heard a bit of trivia that should have been obvious but that surprised me nonetheless. When asked whether Microsoft would support Sun Microsystems' server-based Java technology in the next Windows .NET Server (Win.NET Server) version, John Montgomery, the group product manager for the Developer Platform and Evangelism Group at Microsoft, said no but noted that Sun was as free to build on Microsoft's server platform as anyone else. Montgomery then explained that the world would have been a very different place if Sun had made different decisions at crucial points in its relationship with Microsoft. Here's what happened, and how things might have turned out much differently.
In December 1995, Microsoft announced an abrupt strategy shift in which the company reorganized its business around the Internet. The announcement, touched off by Bill Gates's earlier "Internet Tidal Wave" memo to employees at the company, included a couple of shocking interoperability revelations: Microsoft would expand its licensing of Spyglass's Web browser code to port the Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) product to Windows 3.x, UNIX, and the Macintosh; and the company would license Java, the popular Web-oriented programming language.
Java had an interesting beginning at Sun, the high-end server and enterprise-class UNIX vendor. According to popular legend, developer James Gosling had decided to create a new programming language for a set-top box that the company was then designing but later scrapped. Looking out his office window for inspiration, Gosling saw a tree and dubbed the object-oriented language "Elm." But the name Elm was already taken, so Gosling settled on Java. Over the next few years, Java sat in limbo as Sun's set-top box plans folded. But with the rise of the Internet, Gosling saw that a small and elegant programming language like Java could be quite useful, and so it was redesigned for that purpose.
Microsoft originally didn't trust Sun or Java because of the possibility that developers would prefer Java over Windows. Java applications, applets, and services run in a software "sandbox," a protected environment that sits on top of various OSs such as UNIX, Windows, and the Mac OS. If developers were to accept Java as the overlying platform for their OSs, Windows would lose its importance.
So Microsoft surprised everyone and licensed the Java technology from Sun. According to the licensing agreement, Microsoft would be able to "modify, adapt, and create derivative works of Sun's Java technology," which is exactly what the company did, creating a Java version that ran better on Windows and offered unique Windows-only features. During 1996 and 1997, Microsoft invested heavily in Java, releasing Java interfaces to various Microsoft applications and creating a Java development environment called Visual J++ (VJ++). The company even held Java-oriented developer events and was reportedly working on Java components for Microsoft Office. A future version of Visual Studio (VS) was going to generate Java byte codes—the underlying executable format that programs written in Java use.
The company's distributed Java strategy was interesting. Sensing a move to Internet-based software subscriptions—a term more common today than it was 4 or 5 years ago—Microsoft began adapting its Windows-only component technologies (which the company referred to by the umbrella term Windows DNA) to include cross-platform hooks through Java. Java would have been the gatekeeper, or glue, between software components running on Windows servers. And with Java, Microsoft finally had an interoperability strategy for communicating with non-Windows systems.
If you're familiar with what became .NET, the information in the preceding paragraph should sound familiar. But somewhere along the line, Microsoft's plans for Java completely fell apart. Sun sued Microsoft in October 1997 for violating the Java licensing terms. And when it became clear that Sun was going to win the case—as it eventually did in an early 2001 settlement, Microsoft slowly but surely walked away from Java and did its own thing. "Had Sun not decided to compete through the courts, we would have happily continued using Java, and .NET never would have happened," Montgomery said.
Faced with the prospect of not being able to improve Java, Microsoft started working up internal strategies for cross-platform, Internet-based subscription software. The company had already hired longtime Borland software architect Anders Hejlsberg, who created the Turbo Pascal compiler and the Delphi Visual Component Library (VCL), to work on Java technologies. Hejlsberg was set to working up a new, Java-like programming language eventually named C#. But C# isn't Hejlsberg's most important contribution to Microsoft. His creation of the logical and powerful class library and runtime environment Common Language Runtime (CLR) is credited with making .NET a huge hit with developers.
In some ways, the Sun-Microsoft feud was a good thing. The .NET platform as it now stands is more powerful than anything the company could have accomplished with Sun, thanks to .NET's from-scratch architecture, support for multiple programming languages, and use of standards-based technologies such as XML and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). And, in response to criticism of Sun for not doing the same for Java, Microsoft has taken the high road and worked to make key portions of .NET open standards that are available for anyone to use. Microsoft will also open more of .NET to standards bodies over the next few years, Montgomery said.
Sun, of course, is still positioning Java for Web services, and the possibility exists that Java will be in place years from now, working side by side with .NET technologies. But if Sun could have found some way of working with Microsoft, avoided its lengthy and ultimately damaging court case, and positioned Java as an open standard, Sun might have driven the move to the Web services platforms of the future. Instead, although Java will be a player in Web services, its position will probably be as a minor player relegated to non-Microsoft platforms. Do you think Sun would do it differently if it had a second chance?
Editor's Note: We need your help to make this and other email newsletters from Windows & .NET Magazine as useful to you as they can be. To help us with our editorial planning, please answer the Windows & .NET Magazine Network Email Newsletter & Web Site Survey, available at the following URL. If you provide your email address at the end of the survey, we'll put your name in a drawing for a Windows & .NET Magazine T-shirt. Thank you! We appreciate your help.
SPONSOR: VERISIGN — THE VALUE OF TRUST
If you use the Internet to deliver your proprietary software, request VeriSign's FREE Guide to learn how to digitally padlock your code. Protect your code against tampering and learn how to sign your ActiveX controls, .cab files, jar files, HTML content, Visual Basic code and Microsoft 2000 .doc files with a VeriSign Software Developer Digital ID.
2. .NET NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
Forget the point release tomfoolery: The next Windows version—code-named Longhorn—will rattle some cages and change perceptions about Microsoft's role as industry innovator. Originally envisioned as a stepping stone to the .NET world Microsoft was promising with Blackcomb, an even more distant Windows release, Longhorn suddenly took on a much grander role late last year, and though the company has been trying to keep it secret for fear of stalling Windows XP sales, details about Longhorn have been slipping out for months. This week, Fortune Magazine revealed what we've long suspected: When Bill Gates stepped down from his CEO post, he did so to concentrate on software, and that software is Longhorn.
(contributed by Christa Anderson, [email protected])
One of the fun things about writing a technical column is that it lets me indulge my love of exploring esoterica, but one of the dangers of doing so is the possibility of losing sight of what the .NET technology is for—that is, what people are planning to do with it, or are doing already. I got a great example a few days ago.
Some of the writers for Windows & .NET Magazine attended the Microsoft .NET Server Reviewer's Workshop near Redmond last week. After spending 3 days learning about what's coming in Release Candidate 1 (RC1) and quizzing product managers, our brains were leaking out our ears. Therefore, when the final session on Thursday ended, a couple of us stopped at the hotel bar for a glass of wine. While chatting with the bartender (er, wine steward—she corrected me on this point) she asked what we were in town for. "A reviewer's workshop on .NET," one of my friends answered. "Have you heard of it?" "Sure," the wine steward responded, "I'm using it," and she brandished her MSN belt pager.
My friend—an ubergeek if ever there was one—looked perplexed for a moment. "What's that got to do with .NET?" The wine steward fixed him with "The Look." "Passport. I'm using MSN Messenger."
Final score: Wine Steward 1; Journalist Geeks 0.
My point is not that we were resoundingly corrected by the wine steward; after all, as close to the Microsoft campus as we were, I'm not surprised either that she was familiar with .NET or that she had a belt pager. (Out here in the sticks, where I live, that WOULD surprise me.) Nor is the dubious future of Passport really the issue—I don't know what's going to happen with .NET Passport in the next few months, and I harbor suspicions that Microsoft isn't sure either, but the service exists now. My point is that, although we'd just spent 3 days studying future applications of .NET, when confronted with an actual living breathing wine-serving example of its current application, we missed it. It wasn't splashy enough or complex enough to see.
Microsoft has some big plans for .NET—some that work now (although the company is still working the bugs out and figuring out best practices), and some that won't take effect for another year or longer. I'm very interested in how all these pieces are going to work together—particularly when it comes to directory service-enabled applications that can dynamically choose the supporting code that fits a particular user, location, OS, or other criteria. But the way this stuff works isn't nearly as important as what we can do with it and how it's supporting real-world needs. Therefore, I'm taking any submissions I can get for current .NET applications. If you know of current applications for any aspect of .NET, send them to me (with as much contact information as you can manage—I can track people down, but it's easier if I have a starting point), and I'll follow up in future columns. Let's see how this technology applies to the real world.
(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)
So, you're not a programmer, but that doesn't mean you can't learn to create and deploy timesaving, problem-solving scripts. Discover Windows Scripting Solutions online, the Web site that can help you tackle common problems and automate everyday tasks with simple tools, tricks, and scripts. While you're there, check out this article about WMI scripting for beginners!
We know you're trying to keep up with important topics such as Web databases, security, and XML—not to mention the basics like configuration and backup. Take action and grab a copy of SQL Server Magazine, the best resource for database administrators and developers. Get a free preview issue today!
October 27 through 30, 2002
Keep up with .NET technology and increase your productivity with the tools, tips, and tricks you'll discover at this Visual Studio (VS) developer conference. Learn how to solve tough interoperability problems and build applications that integrate better. Choose topics that meet your needs from the comprehensive schedule of sessions that range from basic to expert. Register now, and you'll gain free access to the concurrently running Microsoft ASP.NET Connections and SQL Server Magazine LIVE! conferences.
For other upcoming events, check out the Windows & .NET Magazine Event
6. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Carolyn Mader, [email protected])
Identify Software announced .NET Framework support for its AppSight System, software that captures application behavior without modifying code. The software can help you capture, identify, and communicate the cause of software failures throughout the application life cycle, even when failures occur across .NET Framework application modules. You can also use the software to record XML transactions. For pricing, contact Identify Software at 800-364-5467.
Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to [email protected].
7. CONTACT US
Here's how to reach us with your comments and questions:
- ABOUT THE COMMENTARY — [email protected]
- ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER IN GENERAL — [email protected]
(please mention the newsletter name in the subject line)
- TECHNICAL QUESTIONS — http://www.winnetmag.net/forums
- PRODUCT NEWS — [email protected]
- QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR .NET UPDATE SUBSCRIPTION?
Customer Support — [email protected]
- WANT TO SPONSOR .NET UPDATE?
This email newsletter is brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine, the leading publication for Windows professionals who want to learn more and perform better. Subscribe today.
Receive the latest information about the Windows and .NET topics of your choice. Subscribe to our other FREE email newsletters.