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Microsoft's .Net-Three-ring circus or best in show?

As the curtain rises on yet another generation of manufacturing software, what kind of performance will Microsoft deliver?

Its .Net initiative is highly publicized, and many application developers have queued up to use the technology. Will this be another software three-ring circus, or will the performance be an award winning best-in-show?

This month’s issue focuses on the .Net phenomenon. What is it, what will its impact be on manufacturing, and what are the alternatives to the Microsoft juggernaut?

Just what is .Net? Is it a marketing gimmick or a new technology? Kenna Amos reveals some of the inner processes of .Net, building on standards developed for the World Wide Web, especially eXtensible Markup Language. He describes .Net as a virtual stethoscope that helps operations and business managers take the real-time pulse of their businesses. See his article beginning on page 24.

How real is .Net? Is it just theory, or is it being used in manufacturing? Rob Spiegel investigated and found applications developers and end users already applying the technology to manage disparate applications to access, send and integrate data over the Internet. Read this report beginning on page 28.

Is .Net the only game in town? Carol Wilson says that Sun, IBM, BEA and others are lining up to lure customers out of the .Net world with Java. Read more about the battle of .Net vs. Java in her article beginning on page 32.

Moving information among various components of an automated manufacturing enterprise with as little programming as possible has been high on the wish list of automation and information technology engineers for a long time. Rich Ryan, president of Rockwell Software, discusses the company’s “federated data model” and current customer expectations of automation suppliers with Automation World Editor, Gary Mintchell, starting on page 38.

In addition to the focus topics, be sure to catch Automation World Managing Editor Wes Iversen’s interview with Unilever’s Andy McDonald, beginning on page 42, for an articulate take on the future of automation.

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