Microsoft readies tools to power Web services

It’s not Windows or Office, but Microsoft is about to launch what analysts say is one of of its most important products, a key stepping stone to the company’s goal of dominating the dawning era of Web-based services.
Top Microsoft brass such as Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer will hit stages in San Francisco and Chicago today to unveil Visual Studio .NET, a set of tools for software developers that will let them create applications based on the company’s .NET technology.
Microsoft’s .NET strategy is aimed at moving the company away from pre-packaged software and toward Internet-based services.
Visual Studio .NET is designed to let enterprises and independent software makers tap the .NET technology – based on the XML standard that describes type of data – in those products to create custom applications.