My application to join the MS Empower Program for ISVs was accepted this week. The first thing I did was go straight to the MSDN download section and drool over all the software now available to me to download. (Shame I'm on 56k... oh eircom get your act together and deliver broadband soon, it's not like I live in the sticks or anything <moan moan>)
For a €375 subscription fee I get the equivalent of €30k worth of software, of which I will realisitically only use a few thousands worth, but still, how bad. There are a few costs associated with it, like a software verification test, digital ID from Verisign etc. but it's still a great deal, and actually the cheapest way for me to start using Visual Studio 2003 architect.
I sat today wondering why MS are acting so desperate to get ISVs like me to write software for .Net in particular. Then it struck me... (a rare moment of mental clarity), and I remembered back to what a man was saying at a Longhorn conference I was at earlier in the year. He said that Windows Longhorn will run with 2 kernels, one for Win32 apps and a new kernel for apps written in .Net, i.e. managed code. This is obviously great for backwards compatibility, with the advantages being given to new applications with the new kernel. BUT... what if .Net apps don't become mainstream for 5 or more years?! the new kernel will be more or less unused and we might as well be running a souped up XP pro instead. Avalon, the new user interface, will also only work with .Net apps (.Net 2.0 at that), and other apps will look the same as XP. It is no wonder MS are not giving a solid release date for Longhorn, since I reckon it depends on the take-up of .Net software. If it is great, they will push to release longhorn early to give users the advantages of running .Net apps on a managed operating system. But if it is slow, they will throw more and more resources to the developers and software companies in programs like Empower for ISVs until the knock-on effect of that is to put a whole lot more .Net software in to the marketplace until .Net becomes the standard.
Here we are 2 or 3 years into the launch of .Net and most people around here still think it's bleeding edge technology if they have heard of it all. (Yes there is a modern side to Ireland, but a lot of it is still running Windows 95, that's the reality of the environment we are building software for).
Something about knowing that my apps will one day execute in a managed Kernel in Longhorn really gets me going :) but i think it might be longer than MS think before it becomes the norm.