Speaking at the Microsoft Mobility Developers Conference, Bill Gates has officially launched the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework, its technology to enable Web services on mobile devices. This will allow Visual Studio .NET developers to create mobile applications for the Pocket PC platform.
“Major computing trends have always been driven by software developers, and the same will be true for mobile computing,” Mr. Gates said. “Just as Visual Basic sparked a wave of innovation in business applications and made the PC an essential business tool, Visual Studio .NET 2003 and the .NET Compact Framework will unlock the potential of Web services and rich data on smart devices. This will enable developers to drive a new era of innovation in the mobile marketplace, transforming smart devices into ‘must-have’ productivity tools.”
Features of the .NET Compact Framework and Visual Studio .NET 2003 include support for XML and Web services; the ability to integrate components written in multiple programming languages; and developer productivity features such as integrated rich device emulator support, a visual drag-and-drop forms designer, a comprehensive set of user interface controls, remote debugging support, and simplified application deployment.
Microsoft plans to eventually release a version of the .NET Compact Framework for its Smartphone operating system.
Visual Studio .NET 2003 is expected to be released on April 24.
To boost developer interest in mobile applications, Microsoft will give away 25,000 newly-announced ViewSonic V37 Pocket PC handhelds to people who get Visual Studio .NET 2003. These will come with the .NET Compact Framework pre-installed.
There has been some concern expressed in the Pocket PC community that, by making Visual Studio .NET 2003 the only option for creating .NET Compact Framework applications, it is squeezing out small developers. The new version of Visual Studio .NET is expected to cost more than $1,000, out of the price range of most hobbyists.