Microsoft releases update to free Web development tool

Microsoft Monday announced an update to its free ASP.Net development tool for building Web applications that use its latest Active Server Pages technology.

New features in the updated version of the lightweight tool, which is known as ASP.Net Web Matrix, include support for the Microsoft Access database, support for the J# programming language and several design-time enhancements.

Shawn Nandi, a product manager of ASP.Net at Microsoft, said the initial version of the tool was considered a 0.5 version, and the new edition launched this week is viewed as Version 0.6. Developers could use the 0.5 version of ASP.Net Web Matrix only with the Visual Basic and C# programming languages, he said.

"It's intended to be an ongoing project to give developers a quick and easy way to test-drive ASP.Net and for us to get feedback from the Web development community for some of the features we have in mind for the next version of Visual Studio," Nandi said.

The updated version of ASP.Net Web Matrix can be downloaded online.

Also Monday, Microsoft announced the release of an ASP.Net Starter Kit with source code for five sample applications, including e-commerce storefront, community portal and data-reporting applications. A beta version of the starter kits had been available since February, Nandi said. The starter kits can be downloaded online.

Microsoft also announced that it is working with other vendors to provide ASP.Net hosting services to enable developers to easily deploy their ASP.Net applications, Nandi said. The list of hosting services can be found on the company's ASP.Net Web site.

The company also recently launched the ASP.Net Developer Center on its developer network site.

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