Too many .Nets, too little time?

Microsoft's attempt to juggle too many .Nets is coming home to roost with testers writing workflow-centric apps and services that can be hosted in the Azure cloud.

Microsoft's overzealous .Net branding campaign is a pretty much a thing of the past. But that doesn't mean the .Net confusion is completely over.

Microsoft's attempt to juggle too many .Nets is coming home to roost with testers writing workflow-centric apps and services that can be hosted in the Azure cloud. In a posting to the Azure Services Platform blog last week, Microsoft officials admitted that .Net Services was based on a different, older version of .Net -- and that the newer version wouldn't be ready in time for Azure's official launch (which is expected this fall).

Microsoft's .Net Services is one of the infrastructure components of its Azure cloud-computing platform. .Net Services is the uber-name for the access control, service bus, queuing, routers and workflow technologies powering Microsoft's cloud platform. .Net Framework 4.0 is the version of the .Net Framework that will be part of Visual Studio 2010, slated to ship in late 2009 or early 2010.

In a June 12 posting entitled "Upcoming Important Changes to Microsoft .NET Workflow Service," the .Net Services team explained what's happening:

"An area of consistent discussion is the Microsoft .NET Workflow Service delivered via .NET Services, and how it relates to the Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) in the .NET Framework. One of the comments that we’ve consistently heard about the .NET Workflow Service is that you want the Workflow Service to be built on .NET Framework 4‘s workflow engine. This is currently not the case, since we are prior to the release date of .NET Framework 4.

"As the direct result of user feedback, we will hold off further releases of the Workflow Service until after .NET Framework 4 ships. Since there will be important changes to the Workflow Service before it goes to full production, we are planning to take down the existing Workflow Service as part of service improvements in the month of July."

According to the blog posting, the .Net Services team is planning a sixth Community Technology Preview of its technology next month -- one which will remove the Workflow component of the .Net Services platform. If you're a tester/developer whose application and/or service makes use of .Net Workflow, you have until July 1 to modify your product "in order to continue functioning smoothly," the .Net Services team said.

Any testers out there affected by this Microsoft shift, which comes less than six months before Azure goes live? Do you think Microsoft is behaving responsibly or making a dumb move?

(Thanks to Roger Jennings of the Oakleaf Systems blog for the pointer to last week's Azure Services Platform blog posting.)

One more thing: Microsoft plans to announce Azure licensing and pricing at its Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans in July, company officials told me recently.