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Visual C# and .NET

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By spiffy43
April 27, 2001

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Hi everyone!

Here is some upfront disclosure: I am long MSFT (and after today, I am very glad to be, but read on for more). I get a bit technical below, but if you're generally familiar with what Microsoft is doing with .NET or with the way software technologies are headed, you will have no problem following me. I will, however, try to explain things as I go.

I work for a private company that develops government accounting software. Today one of my co-workers and I were working together on a web development project and we decided to do it in a beta version of Microsoft's new programming language, C# (pronounced "see sharp" - it's part of the .NET framework).

C# is by far one of the most impressive languages in existence today. It allowed us to seamlessly integrate XML and an Oracle Database to create a website which would have taken us about half a day with other technologies. With C# it took us about an hour and a half.

It appears than after getting over the initial learning curve (which is not greater than that of other languages), C# pays incredible development time dividends. It has forced me to reconsider what is 'easy' and 'hard' to do on a computer. C# really illustrates how good the Microsoft .NET strategy is for software developers.

As there doesn't seem to be a general layperson's understanding of .NET out there, let me see if I can (greatly) simplify and explain it. The .NET architecture allows any piece of software to talk to and use any other piece of software. As I understand it, the C# language is the medium in which this 'conversation' takes place. A lot of other languages and technologies have promised this, but with .NET Microsoft has delivered. I really cannot overemphasize how excited I am about .NET after my foray into it today, and I'm sure that I just scratched the surface.

On the business side, once development teams in general learn how useful .NET really is, every company that develops applications or web content for any Microsoft product will have to upgrade their development tools and systems to the latest .NET compliant stuff. This obviously means cash for Microsoft, but the question that needs to be asked by us investors is, "how much?" I assume that most of the developers that use Microsoft products subscribe to their MSDN service, and so they already get copies of all of the .NET compliant stuff with their subscription. I think most of the revenue generated from .NET will come from end user upgrades (again, I assume this is where MSFT gets most of its sales).

Please don't buy MSFT solely because of this article, but .NET is something to think about when doing research. It is incredible, and if it survives the beta stage of development and goes commercial, it will herald a new age of easy to write (and probably easy to use and easy to customize) software, with Microsoft once again at the forefront.

Fool on,

=-=-
Alex