The ASCOM Initiative, now in its 10th year, is pleased to announce the ASCOM Platform 2008 and an all-new ASCOM web site. The new Platform includes extensive support for Microsoft's .NET family of languages, plus major upgrades to its core components and optional developer tools. The new web site has loads of new information for users and developers alike, plus (as always) the latest drivers for devices that don't ship with their drivers included.

The ASCOM Platform is a framework that supports astronomy device drivers that are cross-vendor and cross-language. ASCOM drivers are similar to printer drivers - which make it possible for any program to print to any printer that has a driver loaded. An ASCOM driver makes it possible for any program to use any astro-device that has an ASCOM driver loaded. ASCOM drivers are currently usable from virtually any programming language (currently over 20) on Windows, making them truly universal for Windows.

At present, over 35 astronomy software packages from all over the world use drivers to control devices, and and drivers are available for over 50 different mounts, domes, focusers, filter wheels, cameras, and rotators. The lists are always growing.

Finally, a new effort ASCOM-X (X means "cross-platform") is underway to extend the ASCOM driver architecture to operating systems other than Windows (e.g., Linux and Mac OS). Our goal is to make drivers for Linux and Mac OS (at a minimum) that have the same commands as those on Windows, and which can be used by all languages (that matter) on those platforms. In addition, ASCOM-X is addressing the future where devices with built-in Ethernet can speak standard protocols, allowing them to be used by any software on any operating system. As part of this, another goal is to allow a driver to be on one computer with the software on another, with each running a different (or the same) operating system. This is a long-range project, but it has started with a "big bang".

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