Windows and Web Developers to Unite Under MSDN Banner
REDMOND, Wash., March 15, 1999 - Software developers for the Web and developers for Windows-based applications are increasingly speaking the same languages.
As Web sites become more sophisticated and complex, Web developers who once confined themselves to HTML and simple page design tools are learning more and more about Visual C++ and other Microsoft technologies used by traditional developers. Similarly, because of the skyrocketing importance of the Internet, applications developers find themselves using DHTML and other Microsoft Web development tools.
"The two worlds are coming together," noted Sue Bohn, group manager of Microsoft's MSDN Online evangelism team.
MSDN stands for Microsoft Developer Network, Microsoft's resource center for developers worldwide. For the past seven years, MSDN has supported traditional Windows developers with CD subscriptions offering the latest Microsoft tools, information and products. Nearly two years ago, it added a Web site (http://msdn.microsoft.com) to offer an array of developer services online.
While MSDN Online's usage has mushroomed, today nearly 70 percent of its users also use the Site Builder Network (SBN) site (http://www.microsoft.com/sitebuilder/) for Web developers, according to Anders Brown, product manager for MSDN Subscriptions. Similarly, SBN, Microsoft's nearly three-year-old sister organization for those who develop Internet sites, has seen a significant rise in the number of its members who also join MSDN Online, Bohn said.
To take advantage of this fast-growing duplication among the 5.5 million professional developers internationally, Microsoft is combining its resources for MSDN and the Site Builder Network under the MSDN brand. As part of this marriage, the MSDN Online and SBN Web sites and online membership programs will be merged into a single, comprehensive, one-stop source of information and tools for developers. The newly redesigned MSDN Online officially launches March 29.
On that date, the Site Builder Network name will go away, and all of SBN's 1 million members will become MSDN Online members. They will receive the MSDN Flash newsletter and other MSDN Online services. Meanwhile, such SBN staples as Online Special Interest Groups (OSIGs), which build communities among developers with particular areas of interest, and the SBN magazine, with expert columnists writing about a range of development topics, will become MSDN Online features. The online magazine has been renamed MSDN Voices.
"What we are doing here is representative of what the company as a whole is doing with our Windows Distributed interNet Applications [Windows DNA] architecture," said Paul Gross, vice president of the Developer Tools Division. "The idea is to bring our customers the best of Windows and the best of the Web, for building, deploying, and managing distributed applications."
"We recognize that developers are an important customer group at Microsoft," Bohn added. "We are helping our customers succeed, but we are also helping Microsoft succeed, by giving developers information to successfully write applications for the Windows platform."
MSDN Online currently has 800,000 members worldwide, while 1.7 million people subscribe to the MSDN Flash newsletter. MSDN Online membership is free, as was SBN's.
MSDN Subscriptions remains a separate service, where subscribers pay $99 to $2,499 per year for the Library, Professional, or Universal subscriptions. Library members receive the quarterly CDs, technical support, and other resources. Professional members get these services plus operating systems, software development kits, and product updates and betas. Universal subscribers receive the complete package-all of the above plus copies of Visual Studio, BackOffice, Office Developer, and other development software.
BETA SITE POPULAR WITH USERS
A beta version of the new MSDN Online has been live at http://msdn.microsoft.com/defaultbeta.asp since Feb. 15 and has generated more than 500 e-mail responses from internal and external users. Most of the feedback is positive; many responses also offered suggestions for the combined site.
Some of the comments: "This is a great step in bringing all your content together for developers…." "I am looking forward to using the site. The merger is a good move ... as some like myself won't have to shift from one site to another." "The new MSDN site rocks. Good job."
Among its key features, the new MSDN Online enables users to customize the site so they can get only the content they want. For example, if you're a developer using Visual C++, you can customize to get information on COM, ATL, and other Visual C++ technologies you are interested in, rather than having to wade through other topics you may not care about. Users can customize for as broad or narrow a range of subjects as they want.
The new site also features an easy-to-use Start page that can be personalized and offers a wealth of information just a click away. A Search button is prominently displayed on the page. Developer News items are featured at the top of the Start page, which also includes a Member Community listing of case studies, books, and OSIG meetings; an Events & Training section for classes and other events; a Support section for frequently asked questions and Knowledge Base articles about various technologies, and an area for a user's personal links.
The MSDN Online Library will be combined with the SBN Workshop for a repository of articles, research studies, and other information totaling more than 250,000 Web pages. But that integration won't begin until after the March 29 launch, according to Norvin Leach, MSDN managing editor. Until then, the SBN Workshop will remain separate but will be renamed the Web Workshop, he said.
"AUDIENCE IS INCREDIBLY SMART"
Leach and his SBN counterpart, Tom O'Connor, have joined forces to produce a Web site they believe will delight the developer audience-whether they develop for Web or Windows.
"The developer audience is incredibly smart," O'Connor said. "MSDN evangelizes Microsoft tools, but the best way to win the hearts and minds of developers is to provide honest and accurate information-for an entire Web application or a stand-alone desktop application. We will acknowledge tools that have limitations or may not be cross-platform."
"We will also use MSDN articles to explain, in certain situations, why our developers made the choices or decisions that they made," Leach added. "Developers count on us to avoid marketing-speak and give them good, hard information they can use."
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