My editor at The Register asked me if I had any interviews that would be fun to dig out for a retrospective piece. This one is from September 2000, shortly after the announcement of the .NET Framework, where Microsoft’s Mark Anders and Scott Guthrie talk to me about ASP+, the name for ASP.NET when it was in preview.
Listening to the whole interview was a little frustrating, because most of the time I asked questions that were interesting at the time, like the relationship between ASP.NET and COM, but not so much now. I was reminded though that Guthrie gave an impressive demo of what we now call AJAX, where updates to a web page are processed on the client, and described to me how it worked.
The pair also enthused about hosting Windows Forms controls in the browser, one of the .NET ideas that did not really become practical until the release of Silverlight. The full WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) also works well in the browser, but most web developers rule it out because it is Windows only.
As it turned out, AJAX might never have taken off without the work of Google, while Silverlight now looks like a reaction to Flash. I suspect that Microsoft found it difficult to evolve these ideas into full products because it clung to the idea of a Windows-centric Internet, where Windows rather than the browser is the rich client.
Guthrie is now Corporate VP, .NET Developer Division at Microsoft, while Anders is at Adobe where he has been working on a tool for the Flash platform called Catalyst, previously known as Thermo.