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Now from NewTech: ASP.NET 3.5 Training
NewTech offers the most comprehensive and practical training in the .NET community today. Click here to learn more about our BOOTCAMP style ASP.NET 3.5 Training.

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NewTech Viewpoints

Analysis: Watch Windows 2000, XP Adoption Rates for .NET Clues

.NET adoption rate is predictable by watching penetration of Microsoft OS Servers

Related Articles: Microsoft Winds Down NT Sales

Position: NewTech believes the biggest question facing IT planners and managers in 4Q2001 is the likely adoption rate of Microsoft’s .NET platform by the mainstream corporate IT community. The announcement of XML-centric .NET and the dominance of the Web Services architecture has effectively killed COM. These developments have profoundly altered the IT planning landscape. The key to planning is to carefully observe Windows 2000 and XP adoption rates. Prediction: Widespread adoption of .NET development technology will be possible some time after widespread adoption of Win2K Server and/or Windows XP Server.

Without .NET, it’s a Java-everywhere world. The plain facts are these:

  1. Microsoft .NET and the weak economy are the only things preventing Java platforms and tools from proliferating further.
  2. The announcement of .NET has created a short-term opportunity for Java-based applications to gain traction in the ‘dead zone’ that is post Visual Studio 6, pre .NET.

For IT managers, estimating the likely traction of .NET and the timing of this traction are the biggest things to plan for right now. The advent of the .NET Framework is the single biggest item on the IT planning calendar for 2002.

When Microsoft announced .NET, it had the effect of immediately slowing purchases for training, tools, and development in current Microsoft technology. Smart managers and IT shops have been using the vacuum in time created by the .NET announcement to get IT staffs with VB skills current on multithreading, inheritance, function overloading, and similar key object-oriented concepts. These concepts are key to .NET development, and are part and parcel of development tools in the Java space. Accordingly, the best place to learn these concepts has been the Java language.

Simply training developers does not prepare you for a proper evaluation of .NET. While Microsoft has been busy getting developers going on .NET concepts and key points, actual developer training and development of applications for .NET has not really occurred yet. Timing is everything and knowing when to begin allocating resources to .NET is a key part of IT planning in 2002.

Developers do not write checks, but they certainly influence IT buying decisions. This is why vendors in the know go to great lengths to woo developers and win them over to their approach, vision and platform. The new J# language is an example of the resolve of Microsoft to win developers. Developers are a necessary part of the .NET adoption puzzle. However, for clues on when to start really allocating resources to .NET, don’t watch developers. Watch adoption rates of Windows 2000 Server and XP Server. Why? Because all the developers in the world won’t matter if the platforms are not in place.

The recent gaffe on plans to obsolete Windows NT4 is a prime piece of evidence. (See Microsoft Winds Down NT Sales) The move by Microsoft and the resultant howling from customers points to a validation of the obvious: customers are just fine with the NT 4 investment, and in fact seek Return On Investment (ROI) before purchasing again. Microsoft looks to get penetration for .NET - enabled operating systems while prepping developers on the key concepts about .NET and .NET development.

The move to .NET has licensing, rollout, training, and support costs. These costs, when added together, represent a significant new IT investment. Developers need to be ready, because when the .NET wave hits, it should hit very hard.

Summary and Prediction

The rash of IT spending in 1999-2000 was a one-time event. Organizations are looking to get sufficient ROI on these purchases before spending more. The only remedy is time, which will have the effect of creating a return on investment. For organizations to purchase new operating systems in bulk, and carry the attendant costs (such as rollout and training) of such purchases, sufficient time must pass for these organizations to capture ROI on previous purchases from 1999 and 2000.

.NET is a major force looming on the horizon. Over time, it may indeed alter the balance and tip the scales in favor of Microsoft. Accordingly, now is the time to carefully study and weigh the similarities and differences. How long this takes to play out is anyone’s guess. Look to .NET enabled Win2K Server and XP Server adoption rates for a clue regarding when to really get ready for .NET. By preparing developers, Microsoft is ensuring a suitable workforce will be in place to build .NET-enabled applications. But it is the adoption of new OS software that wags the dog.

Prediction #1: Widespread adoption of the .NET enabled operating systems, Windows 2000 Server and Windows XP Server, will be a reality by 2Q2002, but not before. The total cost of moving to the unknown from the known value of current operating systems, tools and skills will serve as obstacles to adoption. The weak economy and budgeting environment will also serve as obstacles to .NET purchasing and planning.

Prediction #2: Expect 20% penetration of .NET operating systems into NT4 accounts by 3Q2002 at the earliest. .NET application development will get real traction no earlier than 3Q2002 and .NET skills will be mandatory no earlier than 4Q2002.

Prediction #3: When the real spending gets underway for .NET rollouts, .NET development skills will be very much in demand. Those with production Java knowledge and experience will fare best in the new world. VB-only developers with weak skills in true object orientation will be left in the dust.

Related Articles: Microsoft Winds Down NT Sales

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