VSLive wrap: Microsoft shines a spotlight on PC clients

Microsoft Corp. at the VSLive Conference here in San Francisco this week is touting PC clients and its upcoming Visual Studio 2005 Team System development platform.

Although Web-based clients have been in vogue of late, Microsoft remains a believer in the Windows PC clients that have been the company’s staple. Saying IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. lately have been endorsing traditional client-based systems, Microsoft’s BJ Holtgrewe, senior product manager for Visual Studio Tools for Office, stressed at the conference on Monday that Microsoft has remained a believer.

“I’d like to say to those two companies, welcome to the party. It’s a party that we’ve never left,” he said.

Traditional clients have been referred to in a derogatory manner as fat clients. But Holtgrewe stressed that PC clients, where software runs on the PC instead of just being accessed off of a server, offer functional advantages over browser-based clients. Browsers are good for viewing of data but not for all complex operations, according to Holtgrewe.

Highlighting the upcoming Visual Studio 2005 tool platform due later this year, Holtgrewe showed a task pane object deployed in a sample real estate application. The task pane takes a single line of code to display, as opposed to the 600 lines that would be needed now. The application uses the ISmartDocument API within Office.

Microsoft also demonstrated the Visual Studio 2005 Team System variant of the platform. The Team product provides for team-based development and application lifecycle management.

“Our goal is to create a mass market for software development lifecycle tools,” said Ajay Sudan, technical product manager for Visual Studio Team System at Microsoft. The graphical package features role-based components for architecture, development, and testing as well as the Team Foundation component for version control, team-based reporting, item tracking, integration services, and other functions.

The company on Tuesday is heralding its upcoming Indigo Web services technology. Indigo will require the .Net Framework and Windows to function, but can interoperate with other platforms, said Ari Bixhorn, lead product manager for Web services technical marketing at Microsoft.

Asked if Microsoft would make Indigo code available via the company’s Shared Source program or an open source format, Bixhorn said there are no plans for such a move. He would not respond when asked if Microsoft would have any announcements related to any linkage between Sun Microsystems and Indigo. The two companies signed a cooperation agreement in April 2004 that featured sharing of technology.

“We don’t have anything to say about it today,” Bixhorn said.

Several third-party companies made announcements at either VSLive or the concurrently held Windows Anywhere conference.

Micro Focus International Ltd. announced it has selected Visual Studio as its single IDE for legacy application development for a wide range of deployment platforms, including IBM mainframes, Windows, Unix, and Linux. Micro Focus specializes in helping users re-use business-critical assets with .Net, Java, XML, and Web services.

Agilix Labs Inc. announced availability of InfiNotes, which are note-taking controls to add digital ink to new or existing applications built on the .Net Framework for deployment on Tablet PC systems. The Standard Edition of the product, enabling basic ink note-taking with Windows Journal-like features, is available free, with developer support costing US$ 295 per named developer. The Professional Edition, featuring rich text formatting, costs $995 per named developer and includes support.

Also unveiling a product to add ink functionality to .Net is Bluewire Technologies, with its BluewireInk product. Supporting Tablet PC, It is designed specifically for use within Web applications targeted at Internet Explorer. It is priced at $100 per developer.

Colligo Networks Inc. launched Colligo Workgroup Edition 4.0 at the Microsoft Windows Anywhere conference. The software enables mobile teams to connect to Windows-based laptops, Tablet PCs, and Pocket PCs via peer-to-peer networks and then share data and communicate. New features include secure folder and printer sharing, instant Wi-Fi networking, archiving of transaction logs on chats, enhanced security including IPSec, and an improved user interface.

Colligo Workgroup Edition 4.0 ships at the end of the month for $99.99 retail.

Data Dynamics Ltd. announced the upcoming release the ActiveReports for .Net 2.0 reporting tool and SharpGraph for .Net, which provides support for graphics. New features in Version 2.0 of ActiveReports include a chart control, page thumbnails in the Windows viewer control, HTML support, and enhanced table support in the RichTextBox control.

DBI Technologies Inc. announced the release of Calendar Tools 2.0 for .Net, which integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio .Net 2003 to provide calendar and appointment scheduling functionality to software, DBI said.

Calendar Tools features a foundation called “Collaborative Data Framework,” which manages data communications and presentation settings for calendar and scheduling controls. Version 2.0 for .Net is shipping now. Eiffel Software announced availability of EiffelStudio 5.6, which is a Windows-compliant IDE, and EiffelVision, a plug-in for Visual Studio .Net 2003 for developing Eiffel projects. Both are based on the Eiffel programming language, which features a “Design by Contract” mechanism for Web service developers and also can be used for Smart Client development.

Infragistics Inc. said it is shipping NetAdvantge 2005 Volume 1, a toolset for developing commercial-grade user interfaces for Microsoft Windows Forms, ASP.Net, Tablet PC, and Com. Among the new features are Windows forms printing featuring PrintPreview and Thumbnail view and new Forms elements. The product has an introductory manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $495.

Kinitos Inc. releasd Version 1.6 of the Kinitos application management solution for .Net Framework-based client applications. Users can deploy, monitor, and update Windows Forms and smart client applications

Lush Group Inc. unveiled Mobile Data Collector Suite for the Tablet PC, a system for defining forms, collecting data in the field, and reporting results. The product uses the .Net framework and XML Web services to pass information between systems. Nolics said it has just released Nolics.net 2.1, a tool for Visual Studio 2003 that allows developers to build database applications by using objects. The new version has been redesigned for ease of use. A license for a single workstation costs about $600.

/n software Inc. released a suite of secure communications adapters for Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004. The /n software BizTalk Server 2004 Adapters includes functionality for EDI, secure messaging, and FTP and SFTP secure file transfer capabilities.

Sax Software Corp. announced Sax.net CommStudio, a set a components and visual debugging tools to integrate remote systems and devices with Visual Studio .Net 2003. The package is available now at a suggested retail price of $999 for a one-year subscription. Softwire Technology announced that its Softwire package for easily building .Net Framework applications is available free of charge. The product is intended to assist those with no formal training in a Microsoft programming language. Users select GUI controls required for their application from more than 200 that are provided

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