E-BUSINESS SPECIAL REPORT

Microsoft’s .NET: Still .NOT Fully Baked?

After announcing its .NET initiative in mid-2000, then backing it up with a slew of releases and hype, Microsoft clearly was hoping 2002 would be the year Web services took off. But the calendar has flipped to 2003, .NET is nowhere near as far along as anticipated, and some observers are wondering if the software giant might have gotten ahead of itself in making such bold predictions.

Microsoft is far from alone, of course. Web services in general, which have been touted as the next big thing in the aftermath of the dot-com crash, have not been the moneymaking powerhouse many had hoped — and they certainly have not saved the tech sector from its deep slump.

Granted, some Web services and .NET success stories already are in evidence, but many enterprises continue to take a wait-and-see approach.

“If you ask corporations, you’ll find everyone intends to tackle Web services, but most of them are still on the sidelines or have only done an experiment here or there,” Gartner research director Raymond Wagner told the E-Commerce Times.

Winter Chill

Part of that corporate hesitance, of course, can be explained by the frigid IT spending climate, which has put the deep freeze on many major tech initiatives.

But confusion about .NET’s message may lie at the root of the glacial pace of progress, according to Giga Information Group analyst Rob Enderle.

“I think if [Microsoft] could start over, there might be an effort to refine the message a bit further,” Enderle told the E-Commerce Times. “Microsoft has done a much better job over the course of the past year, but some of the harm had already been done.”

In addition to widespread uncertainty about what exactly .NET can do for business, enterprises also may be reluctant to commit because they fear the Web services concept is half baked. For example, Wagner said, “Corporations are hearing sales pitches about .NET and Web services, and at the same time they know that security standards are still being hashed out” by the Liberty Alliance and other groups. “It’s bound to instill a little confusion.”

Proof Positive

Since early last year, Microsoft has occasionally trotted out .NET success stories in an effort to emphasize that the technology is ready for use and can help make enterprises more efficient.

Operational efficiency is a key selling point at a time when any tech investment must have real, measurable return-on-investment (ROI) potential in order to have legs, Enderle noted.

For example, Microsoft said recently that USAToday.com has used a .NET model to make it easier and faster for staff members to update its site, and The New York Times has utilized similar technology on its Web site. In addition, according to the software giant, food maker Kraft, Continental Air Lines and the central bank of Costa Rica have deployed .NET to varying degrees.

One by One

So, what will it take to break this apparent logjam? Apart from more robust IT budgets, analysts say, .NET may benefit most from word-of-mouth, rather than from the heavy marketing pushes planned by Microsoft and some of its partners, including tech giant HP.

“If a partner is using .NET or services in general and having success, it may nudge another company into using it,” Wagner said. “[But] companies aren’t being cajoled into investing in technology anymore.”

Microsoft declined to comment for this article.

4 Comments

  • I really enjoy articles such as these as they fail to go more in depth concerning similar offerings from Microsoft’s competitors like IBM, Sun and Novell.
    Novell’s biggest marketing push was "everything .NET is supposed to do we can do it now".
    .
    This article also tackles the idea of lower IT budgets and deployment of services (specifically) .NET. However, as companies are looking more to MS alternatives it AM azes me that MS still wants to lock everyone to MS products.

      • Why should they go in depth concerning similar offerings from Microsoft’s competitors in articles on MS? They don’t go in depth on Microsoft’s products when they have an article on Microsoft’s competitors..

        • Because actually the article doesn’t concentrate solely on Microsoft. So the title is actually wrong. The author apparently believes that MS is the only one offering such services.
          .
          For example the author suggests that a primary reason web services and such have not taken off is because people do not know what .NET is. So the fact that they are confused about .NET rules out every single non-MS vendor?.
          .
          So all this confusion over what .NET really is and what it can do has slowed if not halted the uptake of web services? If the author said it slowed Microsoft’s progress into the arena I wouldn’t have wrote my original thread. If you’re confused about one you don’t simply stop looking elsewhere.
          .
          The biggest problem is are they going to play nice with each other?

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