Jul 20

I was having lunch recently with a colleague when he asked, “Are you still messing around with that .NET stuff?” I could tell by the tone of his voice that he—like many computer users—still viewed .NET with suspicion.

And perhaps with good reason. Purposefully kept separate from the Windows operating system, the 22MB Microsoft .NET Framework is an hour download on dialup and four minutes on broadband. For .NET developers, this extra step adds one more hurdle for a potential customer to overcome when purchasing our software.

So in this article I attempt to demystify .NET, encourage you to download the latest version of the .NET Framework so you can run the latest and greatest .NET software, and help convince Microsoft that it needs to ensure every PC user has the newest .NET.

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May 29

The promise of end-user programming has been a fleeting one. 

First there was Hypercard for the Macintosh.  Hypercard was powerful enough to produce commercial applications but simple enough for a child to use.  Unfortunately, Hypercard proved too difficult for Apple to market properly, and besides, most developers don’t care about the Mac anyway.

Microsoft followed in 1991 with Visual Basic, which retained the simplicity of the BASIC programming language while upgrading it for use on the new graphical Windows platform.  VB was such a smash success with both novice and professional programmers that at one time, over 60% of software developers reported using Visual Basic for some of their projects.  But along the way, Visual Basic matured into a real (read: complex) object-oriented programming language, leaving behind its simple roots and unfortunately many of its fans.  As a result, VB use has plummeted 35% in just the past year.

There are also new efforts by IBM and smaller companies such as DabbleDB and Zoho to turn novices into programmers.  But none have the excitement or momentum of Microsoft’s new programming tool for the masses: Popfly.

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May 24

Microsoft offers a generous program to help new independent software vendors (ISVs) develop and launch their products faster and cheaper. 

The Microsoft “Empower for ISVs” program offers software, support, and additional resources designed to help ISVs reduce development costs, test their software on multiple Windows platforms, and improve time-to-market.  Empower is a one-year membership for $375, with an opportunity to renew for a second year, and it’s available only once per company.

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