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Fall Comdex 2002: .NET or .What?

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Key3media's own Paul Gillin posed the question: Is .NET the future of open, interoperable computing or a way for Microsoft to co-opt Web Services standards and dominate the Internet? Paul Kimmel reflects on Comdex 2002 in Las Vegas and the Great Debate: .NET or .What?
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Paul Kimmel was an invited panelist at the Great Debate: .NET or .What? In this article, he talks about Comdex 2002 and his perspectives on Microsoft's new .NET initiative from his experiences with .NET software development and writing Visual Basic .NET Unleashed (Sams, 2002, ISBN 0-672-32234-X).


My own great-good friend Mark Davis fell in lock-step with the rumor mill that Comdex attendance was too low. The reality is simply that companies and people cannot continue to spend without regard for economic conditions. Attendance was small for Comdex, but the show was alive and exciting, and attendance is bound to ebb and flow with the prevailing economy.

Comdex has expanded to included new technologies like the Segway—you know, the vertical scooter—and orthopedic devices, but the hot subjects were tablet PCs running Microsoft's Windows for tablets, Windows-powered smart displays, a plethora of security software, Acer's and Toshiba's tablet PCs, and the great Debate: .NET or .What?

My contribution was to participate in a moderated panel discussion pitting Microsoft against—it seemed—everything else. As Paul Gillin said, reasonable people tend to reach a middle ground, but the purpose of the debate was information and entertainment.

Played out to a standing-room-only crowd (see Jeremy Rosenberg's "Great Debates ask .NET or .What?" for the blow-by-blow), I was surprised by the prevailing expression of overwhelming confusion. A minority of the audience expressed a myopic anti-Microsoft sentiment, and many people still hadn't figured out what .NET is. The moderate confusion was surprising considering Microsoft's juggernaut to promote .NET and its marketing successes in the past. However, if you take into account that the Comdex demographic is not overwhelmed with software developers, .NET confusion is understandable but still troubling.

As a software architect who has been using and writing about .NET for three or so years, I can give you my perspective on .NET development tools.

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