Test time for Microsoft's wireless .net

Microsoft is due to release the first public beta version of a software product that will help extend its .Net initiative to...

Microsoft is due to release the first public beta version of a software product that will help extend its .Net initiative to mobile devices later today

Called the .Net Compact Framework, the beta version will be released at Microsoft's Mobility Developer Conference in London and includes software needed to run .net services and applications on portable devices such as handheld computers and smart phones.

The .Net Compact Framework includes the runtime environment and class libraries needed to run .net applications and services. A version for desktops and servers, called simply the .Net Framework, has already been released.

The compact version is essentially a subset of that for use in handheld computers running Microsoft's Pocket PC software, its operating software for smart phones, and other Windows CE-based devices such as in-car computers, Montgomery said.

Microsoft is also expected to release a beta of the Smart Device Extensions for its Visual Studio .Net developer tools. The extensions will allow developers to write .Net applications that are suitable for devices with smaller screens, less memory and other limited resources.

Microsoft claims programming with the tool mirrors the method developers use to write applications for PCs and servers. John Montgomery, a group product manager with Microsoft's .net developer platform group said, "Developers won't have to relearn development to build applications for mobile devices. A lot of the code can be cut and pasted moving forward."

Similar to efforts under way in the Java community, Microsoft's strategy is to provide software that allows users to download applications, such as a corporate sales application or a video game, to wireless gadgets.

Microsoft is also expected to unveil plans for a package of products and services aimed at third party developers. Called the Mobile to Market Framework, the package includes software needed to build, deliver and charge for wireless applications.

Under Microsoft's guidelines, each time a user pays to download a mobile application, revenue from the sale will need to be split between the software vendor, the hardware manufacturer and the service provider, Montgomery said.

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