Microsoft has said IT departments will be able to draw on existing skills in Visual Basic to build the next generation of Internet-based applications.
Although Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced Visual Basic 7.0 last week, the company could not say when IT departments would get their hands on the product, which will include support for the Internet data standard XML.
Richard Hamblen, developer tools product manager with Microsoft, said the new version of the Windows development language will not be available for the next couple of months. He would not offer a shipping date.
When Visual Basic 7.0 arrives, it will allow IT departments to build applications that can draw data from a variety of sources and publish it over the Internet or corporate Intranets. "All those people who can program in Visual Basic will be able to do more things - enterprise solutions, Web applications and e-commerce solutions - all of which can interpolate with each other," said Hamblen.
The inclusion of XML in Visual Basic is an important milestone for the popular Windows development language. Analysts agree that XML promises to allow applications to talk to each other despite using different data structures. The technology is vital to the integration of Microsoft technologies such as Windows 2000, Exchange 2000 and the Biztalk e-business framework.
Charles Abrams, senior analyst of e-business with GartnerGroup, said the technology promises to be a "silver bullet" to the problem of integrating data over the Internet. "Within 24 months XML will be as important to e-business as HTML was to the World Wide Web in 1995."