The birth of .NET: Bill Gates launches “VS.NET” during our VSLive! Conference
Microsoft this week celebrated the 20th anniversary of .NET, which was launched by none other than Bill Gates at VSLive 2002! technical conference in San Francisco organized by Visual Studio Magazine.
“Today marks 20 years since the launch of Visual Studio .NET and the first version of the .NET platform was released (or should I say, unleashed) around the world,” an announcement message said. from February 13 by Microsoft’s Beth Massi, who added, “We’re celebrating all month.”
Well, since it all kind of started here, kind of, we thought we’d be part of this month-long celebration by sharing the article that announced .NET to the world, although it was introduced as VS .NET by Gates. Among the dignitaries appearing during the keynote was Anders Hejlsberg, the chief designer of C# who was also instrumental in the creation of .NET.
Here is the article reproduced at best. Note that we’ve updated the original links in the text, which have long since ceased to point to what they were supposed to do, victims of 20 years of internet evolution:
Bill Gates launches VS.NET
Bill Gates kicked off the launch of Visual Studio .NET with a Web Services-centric speech.
by Susannah Pfalzer and Elden Nelson
VSLive! SF, Day 2, February 13, 2002 — Bill Gates officially launched Visual Studio .NET today with a Web Services-centric keynote at the VSLive! conference in San Francisco. The two-hour keynote, peppered with guest speakers from Microsoft, company success stories, and an appearance by several high school students using .NET, focused on web services and linguistic unit. Gates talked about XML web services throughout the course. In fact, the words “web services” seemed to come up more frequently during his speech than “.NET”.
To further underscore this point, Anders Hejlsberg, C# Chief Architect and Emeritus Engineer at Microsoft, followed Bill Gates’ presentation with a very technical talk on VS.NET and what it can do for developers. He explained how to combine C#, VB.NET and ASP.NET to create XML Web services.
Gates started with an overview of IT milestones. Commenting that “many great paradigm shifts have taken the software industry to a new level”, he proposed a timeline that stretched from “Big Iron”, to the PC, to the advent of the GUI, to the Web and finally – as the next step – XML Web Services. Introducing XML web services as “a new approach to programming”, Gates emphasized throughout the speech that web services are the next generation of computing. Gates called Web Services “the foundation of how business is done… This is a key initiative.” In addition to the partnership and compatibility theme of the keynote, Gates announced the creation of the Web Services Interoperability Organization.
Gates tied .NET to web services as the premier web services tool and called web services applications key to improving productivity. Demonstrating a shift from the traditional client/server paradigm, Gates added services to this duo, including Web Services and .NET My Services. He said, “Microsoft’s entire research and development budget is geared toward these goals,” to the tune of $5 billion a year.
Gates called the introduction of .NET an “industry milestone” and provided a brief overview of the languages .NET understands. Tellingly, he didn’t address language specifics for Visual Basic .NET or C#, and the demonstrations throughout the talk used VB.NET for some, C# for others. He also highlighted the more than 20 languages, including COBOL and Java, that can run in the .NET integrated development environment (IDE) with a framework and debugger. Gates seemed to promise .NET as a language equalizer, in which many languages can be used.
.NET customer success stories, in which rapid development and mobile app development was a major theme, highlighted .NET’s ease of use, as did an “Iron Developer” contest, in which Tim Huckaby of InterKnowlogy and Jon Rauschenberger of Clarity Consulting developed .NET applications in an hour. Rational’s Grady Booch demonstrated modeling and patterns in the context of .NET, and one of the most popular parts of the talk was the presentation of several student developers from Monte Vista High School in Danville, California, who created a .NET application in five weeks. .
Gates mentioned security, fault tolerance, and scalability, but with few details on implementation. He noted that web services must be able to operate 24 hours a day and stressed the need to trust web services as we would trust telephones or the electrical system. Presumably, according to Microsoft, web services will become as ubiquitous in the future as these two basic elements of modern society.
The next was Anders Hejlsberg, Emeritus Engineer in the developer division of Microsoft Corporation. He is the chief designer of the C# programming language and a key participant in the development of the .NET Framework. Previously, Anders was the architect of Visual J++ and Windows Foundation classes.
Hejlsberg focused on the benefits of web services using VS.NET, as well as the productivity gains developers get by using the .NET Framework.
Hejlsberg pointed out the virtues of simplified development that programmers will have when using VS.NET. He noted that the low level of abstraction and difficulties in configuring and deploying COM have hurt developers. While VB added some usability, it required wrappers and sacrificed functionality. With the higher level of abstraction inherent in .NET, there is less low-level COM plumbing, with object orientation clearly going to the core. Hejlsberg’s pride was also evident in the unified type system that is part of .NET, where everything is an object, there is a single string type, and all character data is Unicode.
The highlight of Hejlsberg’s talk was when he built a web service from scratch, consumed it from both a browser and rich clients, then deployed the rich client to the web, all within 15 minutes. Regarding the security issue, Hejlsberg pointed out that everything is protected by exceptions, so if the rich client tries to do something illegal, an exception is thrown but gracefully handled and the user can proceed.
Click on the links at the top of the page to view videos of Bill Gates and Anders Hejlsberg’s presentations.
We’ve also found the original archived article, if you want a taste of the 2002-era internet (albeit with missing images and broken links).
David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.