.Net tour rolls into T.O.

TORONTO — The turnout for Microsoft Canada Co.‘s .Net tour has more closely resembled that of a major-label rock band than a software company, even the world’s biggest software company.

“”When we originally started out with

this event, we said ‘Let’s aim to get about 4,000 people’ … In literally one week, we had 4,500 people register (in advance of the .Net launch tour nationwide),”” said Michael Flynn, senior developer tools products manager declared to a crowd of about 2,000 at the Toronto Congress Centre Tuesday. “”So we decided to open it up to accommodate 6,000 people. But I’m in a little bit of trouble – we have 8,500 people registered.””

The .Net tour, began March 19 in Winnipeg and will wind up in Quebec City next week. But Flynn hinted a second Canadian tour would be in the works for autumn.

The purpose of Tuesday’s event, and of the tour in general, is to formally introduce Microsoft’s Web services initiative to developers and business owners alike.

“”Clearly, .Net is not about a tools war or a language war, it’s about business,”” Flynn continued. “”Because that’s what we write software for. We write software to make the very companies we work for profitable and successful and competitive. That’s exactly what this technology is about.””

Flynn described the release of Visual Studio.Net as the advent of moving software forward into the future, the next step in software’s evolution. Visual Studio.Net, a lynchpin of the .Net initiative, is a rapid application development (RAD) tool for building Web applications and XML Web services. XML Web services allow applications and devices to speak to each other and share data over the Internet in spite of their operating systems or programming languages.

Michael Risse, general manager, .Net enterprise solutions group for Microsoft Corp. in Redmond, Wash., said components, regardless of platform, application, system, or geographical location, must be able to work together in a secure and reliable fashion in order for the XML Web services model to succeed.

“”What this enables is a tremendous business opportunity for the way your organization shares information either internally or externally with your customers or with your business partners,”” he added. “”Most of [today’s] systems have not been designed with this in mind.

“”The challenge is to make those systems understand how to work with these Web systems and to build systems that are flexible enough so they can change over time and change very rapidly.””

The key focus of XML Web services, Risse said, is to be a cross-platform, open-standard industry model, for how any system can talk to any other system including all the rigorous interfaces required for B2B (business-to-business) communication.

“”By rigorous interfaces, I don’t just mean the XML that drives the document,”” he continued. “”I mean the security settings, the reliable messaging, a guaranteed transaction … that’s what this rigorous approach to Web services infrastructure is about: building in all the business needs.””

Risse said the goal is to use the Internet as the plumbing for the entire Web services structure.

“”There’s mass recognition among companies … and analyst groups that Web services are the architecture, they are the way applications will be built in the future,”” he said. “”What’s key is, many different organizations will have offerings to this Web services world … today there is industry agreement that Web services is the way to go.””

Risse described Microsoft as a company consumed with focus for Web services at every level. He said the company wants to make Web services as accessible as Web-based e-mail.

“”Visual Studio .Net is a tool set to build this new wave of applications,”” he said. “”Your opportunity for opportunity is tremendous, because there’s a whole new set of applications and services that can be written and provided.””

Previous stops on the tour included Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal and Ottawa. The tour hits Vancouver on the April 18 and Quebec City on April 23.

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