Microsoft revs up mobile .net

Microsoft has released a second test version of its .net Compact Framework, a runtime engine that allows .net applications to run...

Microsoft has released a second test version of its .net Compact Framework, a runtime engine that allows .net applications to run on handheld computers.

The company has also begun work on a limited beta program for the next version of its Visual Studio .net development software, codenamed Everett. The software includes the .net Compact Framework and a series of "smart-device extensions" that help developers write applications for mobile devices.

The announcements came at the VSLive developer conference in Orlando.

The software maker will also release the final version of SQL Server CE 2.0, a small version of its database product that can be used on Windows CE devices. It can also be used for applications that use database functions and can be synchronised with a company's enterprise servers, according to David Rasmussen, product manager of Microsoft's .net mobile developer platform group.

With the three releases, Microsoft is "enabling developers to start targeting mobile devices", Rasmussen said.

The .net framework is one of the linchpins in Microsoft's effort to make its technology the de facto standard for designing and delivering Web-based applications and services. Developers using the software to build basic Web-based applications said it shows promise.

The .net Compact Framework, which is a subset of the developer software for PCs and servers, is expected to extend that consistency to mobile application development, according to Rasmussen.

SQL Server CE 2.0, which now has built-in support for the .net Compact Framework, will be available for free. Microsoft hopes that giving the software away will help spur sales of the enterprise version of SQL Server, which can be used in conjunction with the CE version.

SQL Server CE 2.0 can store data in relational format, then extract that data and deliver it as an XML document for use with Web-based applications. Corporations might use the database to create mobile applications that allow field workers to place orders or track inventory from wireless devices, for example.

While the software adds to the tools available for developers building mobile .net applications, the company faces stiff competition from Sun Microsystems' rival Java development environment.

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