Microsoft finds .Net advocate

Microsoft has found a persuasive -- if not exactly independent -- voice in support of its .Net strategy.

Microsoft has found a persuasive -- if not exactly independent -- voice in support of its .Net strategy.

It belongs to Peter Stanski, a lecturer in the mobile commerce centre of the school of computer science at Melbourne's Monash University. Stanski has been in New Zealand for the past week teaching a day-long .Net introductory course to about 40 developers in the three main centres.

"We got involved with .Net long before anyone else knew about it," says Stanski, who says the university's activities were "hush hush".

Stanski says the involvement, which began more than a year before .Net became public, came about through the university's expertise in the Eiffel programming language, one of many supported by .Net. On the strength of that expertise, Microsoft has given the university resources to establish a Windows NT-based computer lab.

Stanski calls .Net a framework for mobile computing which has the benefit for developers of requiring them to write applications just once for any device.

"Microsoft is working on the basis that the future is wireless," says Stanski.

Three of .Net's key components are: an intermediate language (IL), which converts code from a range of languages to a common runtime language; ASP.Net, which converts data into the appropriate format for whichever kind of access device is being used; and Visual Studio.Net, the toolset which ties everything together.

Visual Studio.Net has been released in beta with a second beta due about the middle of the year and a shipping product promised by the end of the year. While Microsoft is making great play of the fact that any language will do for .Net applications, its C#, released last year, is touted as a standards-based answer to Java.

The Monash connection comes into play in Microsoft's efforts to adhere to standards. A computer science staff member, Christine Mingins, is a European Computer Manufacturers Association committee member, the Geneva-based body with which Microsoft is working with to ensure other vendors' support of C#.

"It's doing what Sun didn't do -- working to standardise the framework," Stanski says.

"That's why I feel so good about this, because it's not just Microsoft. I think Microsoft has realised how things should be done."

Stanski is not just lecturing on the subject. One of his working week is spent running a company called Rat Systems, which is working on applications which will take advantage of .Net.

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