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Getting your money's worth

Microsoft

We've always appreciated how Microsoft has been one of those companies to actually have a fair amount of engineering experts working out of its Washington, D.C., federal office. All too many Silicon Valley companies just have sales folks at the end of their 202 or 703 numbers.

Such a concentration of talent can be valuable to federal IT folks: Last night, for instance, the federal arm held an informative seminar out in Reston, Va., demonstrating some of the new Web application development features in the upcoming Visual Studio 2008 (more on that later).

Another benefit is that a smart federal team can tweak, configure and hack the mothership's product offerings to produce features tailor-made for government users. For instance, the Microsoft Federal crew development team cobbled together this per diem widget for federal agency workers, in order to show off the power of the Windows Vista sidebar feature (and perhaps help goose the heretofore sluggish adoption of Vista by feds).

Basically, if you have Vista on your desktop, you can add this gadget to your desktop sidebar, allowing you to find out how much you're allowed to spend each day on lodging and food in whatever city you're visiting for work purposes. If you're a developer in this community, this Web service-driven gadget may give you ideas of what other sorts of government information could be put on the desktop in this way.

Looking over the description of how this was assembled, we can see the gadget draws the rates from the General Services Administration's per diem rates, which run on a SQL Server database. The Web service that delivers the data was designed on the ASP.NET AJAX framework, and the interface was done up with Microsoft Expression Studio.

It's not a killer application, of course, but a nice offering for the federal community nonetheless.

Posted by Joab Jackson on Jun 27, 2007 at 9:39 AM


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