Software scoop

The amount of business-to-business e-commerce is expected to grow in the next few years, thanks primarily to the increasing number of European Internet users, according to a Forrester research report.

Thirty-nine percent of Europeans now regularly use the Internet, double the percentage in 1999. With that increase comes the opportunity for American companies to expand their markets outside the country through the use of the Internet.

In anticipation of this increased demand for e-commerce applications, Microsoft has released Visual Studio .NET, a programming tool that allows data sharing across Web-based applications.

“It’s very important for companies to have the ability to write programs quickly and inexpensively,” says Gerry Miller, chief technology officer at Microsoft’s Great Lakes District office. “Visual Studio .NET uses Visual Basic language and contains a tool set that enables programmers to write quickly and realize the fruits of their labor quicker.”

Visual Studio .NET allows developers to assemble applications from new and existing code, regardless of platform, programming language or object model.

“There are other programming packages on the market, but no other is as complete as Visual Studio,” says Miller. “There are 25 programming languages supported. You’d be hard-pressed to find a language not supported in the program.”

Miller says other features in the program, including a dynamic Help feature that guides programmers to what they need, may boost developer productivity.

“The pre-built code you get with Visual Studio .NET makes development easier,” says Jeffrey Almoney, chief technology officer of Reynolds & Reynolds, which uses the software for its contact management product used by automotive retailers.

“The common language run makes it more reliable and gives you better memory management,” Almoney says.

Almoney says Visual Studio .NET saves his company time and delivers functionality.

“It’s got a nice debugging environment,” he says. “Its usability is good and we can customize it to our needs.”

Miller says companies will like the fact that applications developed by Visual Studio .NET can be accessed through the Internet via mobile phones, pocket PCs and other alternative technologies. How to reach: Microsoft Corporation, (800) 936-3500,