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Microsoft's ".Net" opens to Apache

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A little later than a year ago, the rampant onslaught of the Nimda and CodeRed viruses, favored by heavy security flaws in Microsoft's web server, made the Gartner Group, one of the major opinion leaders in the IT sector, assert that IIS-Internet Information Server Microsoft had to be deeply revised, estimating the time needed in three years; in the meantime it would have been better to use Apache.

The software giant has therefore thought of applying one of its traditional commercial strategies, that of allying itself with uncomfortable opponents, and then attempting to engulf them at the appropriate time, which is again taking place in the days of this week. For the time being, its Internet Information Server, the Seattle-based company, tries to combine the ".Net" strategy with the widespread Apache web server, running more than half of all the websites, based on the assessments conducted by the research firm Netcraft.

A contradiction? After dozens of sour statements against open-source software, have any Microsoft executives thought about it? None of this, simply and with a big headache, is declared that "the extension of .Net to Apache will allow to attract the attention of a wider slice of software developers". With this in mind, Covalent Technologies, a company that offers advanced Apache-based services and related support, has announced its intention to combine Visual Studio.Net tools with Apache web server technologies, building links that use the "ASP" software layer. .Net ".

The latter is a specialized ".Net" software which, in the intentions of programmers, will have to replace the old Active Server Pages (ASP) technology, for the creation of web applications that support the new services available.

Oracle, the antagonist of all time, also has a role in this new technological structure, with targeted connections to its databases.

In the march towards the diffusion of ".Net", the release of ad hoc updates for the various Windows and software for the servers will also be provided, which will be followed by programming development tools to create programs more oriented to use with the Internet. "Web services" the name of a new technology, supported by ".Net", which promises to easily create connections between computers, even on corporate intranets, in a much simpler way than current methods.

Although programmers and analysts have given ".Net" ample credit for its technical solutions, some major Microsoft customers have called the company's plans "confusing". At the same time, the ".Net" services have been proposed as re-branded products of existing software and without a precise location towards which group of users it refers to.

The design, strictly structured according to Windows-only criteria, then, could limit its appeal in the adoption and use. In any case, the major buyers of technology have said they want to wait for the extension to more industrial standards and better compatibility, before commissioning or developing large-scale projects based on Web services themselves.

A departure with very reasonable caution, given the previous projects of the software giant which then, over time, have proved unsatisfactory.

Industry analysts say that in the coming months the ".Net" strategy will extend to include other software servers and operating systems other than Windows.

In any case, Covalent's expertise in the matter is out of the question, employing several of the leading programmers of the Apache project.

Apache, which exists in dozens of variants for all existing software platforms, the open-source alternative to MS's Internet Information Server as well as to Sun's ONE Web server. In particular, Red Hat, the most popular Linux distribution, offers a particular incarnation of the Apache web-server, called "Apache Stronghold", with its products.