Microsoft Corporation announced this week that its Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) program had reached more than 3 million members. MSDN, which provides services and information for software developers wishing to target Microsoft platforms, grew over 50% during 1999, and the company says that it serves 20 times as many users as similar programs from Sun, IBM, or Oracle. While software development may be a distant interest to the casual user, it is key to the success of any platform. Microsoft seems to understand this, and it uses the program to drive software and technology initiatives that might otherwise languish in obscurity.
"Windows DNA" is a good example. Essentially the formal title for a distributed software development process that's been used informally for several years, Windows DNA is suddenly an "emerging standard for Internet solutions." In fact, it's so ubiquitous that most software and Web developers don't even realize they're doing it. And that's the beauty of Microsoft solutions in many ways, really: The company has a history of leveraging developers' knowledge in previous generation technology, making it easy for these people to move on to the next big thing. In this case, COM/COM+ based components work as middlemen on the Internet between Web and Windows-based clients and the SQL Server data that drives large Web sites. The company correctly uses the success of Windows DNA as an example of developer evangelism at its finest.
Microsoft offers a number of membership levels for MSDN, including a free MSDN Online subscription, which provides developers with a vast resource library of information. Higher-end paid subscriptions provide members with most of Microsoft's development, Office, server, and operating system software, providing them with the tools they need to succeed. It really is a good program, and anyone that's interested in Windows-based Web and software development should be spending time each day on the MSDN Web site