.NET Framework to fit in small devices

Microsoft Corp. Monday released long-awaited software that will allow applications designed around its .NET platform to run on portable computing devices. It also made available a test version of its suite of software development tools that can be used to build mobile applications.

The .NET Compact Framework was released here at the Comdex trade show, where Microsoft is also trying to make a splash with new business applications and consumer hardware products powered by its Windows operating system. Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, made a brief mention of .NET software during his keynote presentation here Sunday night.

The .NET Compact Framework is a subset of the .NET Framework, which is already available for Microsoft's desktop and server operating systems. The software is required to run Web-based applications developed using .NET tools, and is comparable to a Java Virtual Machine, the software required to run Java applications on PCs, servers and mobile devices.

A test release of Microsoft's Visual Studio .NET software develop environment also made its debut here Monday. Previously code-named "Everett," Visual Studio .NET 2003 is expected to be released widely in April, Microsoft said. That same month, Microsoft said it will deliver Windows .NET Server 2003, the widely anticipated upgrade to Windows 2000.

The raft of new software and tools is part of Microsoft's overarching plan to allow developers to build and host applications that can run on devices ranging in size from cell phones to large servers, Microsoft said.

The new developer tools should allow developers to build Web-based applications, or Web services, that will run on Microsoft's .NET server software. Applications built with the tools will also make use of new Web services specifications such as WS-Security, WS-Routing and WS-Attachments, Microsoft said.

The company Monday also announced that developers building applications with the test version of Visual Studio .NET 2003 and the .NET Compact Framework will be able to deploy their applications for product use.

Developers who have already purchased the current version of Visual Studio .NET, and who don't already own an upgrade to the software, will be able to acquire Visual Studio .NET 2003 for US$29. General pricing and availability were not released.

Members of MSDN, Microsoft's developer community, can download the final beta of Visual Studio .NET 2003 at http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/.

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