VSLive! and in person with Bill Gates

SAN FRANCISCO — Bill Gates thinks it could be bigger than Windows.

Fresh from delivering a keynote to a packed ballroom at the VSLive! Conference Wednesday, Microsoft Corp.’s chief software architect spent a rare one-on-one interview

discussing the rapid acceptance of the VisualStudio.Net platform by developers and partners.

Gates said he thinks the company’s .Net platform, including its just-announced VisualStudio.Net development tools, will have a greater impact on the IT industry than the graphical user interface as he compared Web-based development using XML to the acceptance of the Windows.

“”This is catching on a lot faster with developers than the graphics interface ever did,”” said Gates. “”We bet our lives on this stuff and because I spend every day on it, there are so many pieces to this.

“”There are days . . . boy . . . when I think: Will developers understand how profound this is? Since XML has emerged in 1996, they’ve emerged piece by piece, and nothing has brought that together.””

Gates cited the financial services industry as a vertical market that already thinks the Web-based approach to development is absolutely necessary. “”They latched on to it very quickly,”” he said. “”But the energy behind it, the rapidness of acceptance has been far more than we expected.””

Although XML has been evolving over the last seven years, Gates said there was a lack of consistency in its implementation.

“”The problem was that were people were perverting HTML to make it into this type of language, but that creates all sorts of problems,”” he said.

Once again, Gates let on that Microsoft appears to be willing to bet the house on a single technology and this time it’s Internet-based applications development.

“”The fundamental platform here, this Web services approach, that is the industry approach for this decade. It’s not like some new thing is going to come along this year or next year or the year after that.””

Gates tried to put the launch of .Net platform tools in a historical perspective.

“”The last decade you could say it was HTML, before it was the graphical user interface, this decade it’s XML with the Web services around that, services being built around a fault-tolerant approach. That’s the development paradigm.””

That being said, Microsoft will continue to release updates of Visual Studio that will make it richer, Gates added, indicating he may try to make applications development popular in the same way he did with operating systems and the user interface.

“”The next couple of releases will be end-user driven.””

More from Gates in the next issues of Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News and InfoSystems Executive.

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