El.pub Analytic Issue Number 2
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Contents: Introduction of .NET | XML joins the fun | Too many tag sets? Too much data? | ASP and peer-to-peer too | Does it all stand up?
In July Bill Gates gave a long presentation of where Microsoft thinks the IT world is going - at least the Microsoft 90% of it. It is an important presentation because it brings together a lot of ideas that different companies have been working on and ties them into a coherent framework.
The framework is not yet well worked out, but it is a map of a possible future for computing that people can add new elements to. One of the most valuable results of the PC revolution has been the interoperability of applications that the emergence of a de facto standard platform has helped achieve. The new signpost seems to point in the same direction. Microsoft call it .NET. One of the themes in the Gates presentation is that knowledge workers need to have more powerful Internet applications that move on from the fetch-and-display paradigm that we have today.
Ten years ago finding whether specific information existed, and if so where it was held, was a major task that was only partially computer aided. Accessing the information was a separate problem that usually involved talking to people and obtaining printed paper copies. The creation of the Web has led to a situation where, for a high proportion of the publicly available information in the world, these tasks can be carried out from any computer terminal.
.NET is the Microsoft solution to the next phase, which is to automate, or at least computer aid, many of the tasks for which we require the information. At the simple levels used as examples in the .NET launch, such as booking rooms for meetings and making sure everyone who needs to attend is available and informed, the methods are not too difficult to imagine. For more difficult tasks involving extensive searching and synthetic presentation of results, current research has not so far found solutions. In this sense the presentation forms a useful window into the future against which to tally current capabilities and wish lists.
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