Most Wireless Sensor Network platforms - such as the Mica, Iris, and Telos B families of motes - use low-power 8-bit microprocessors which have limited memory and processing capabilities, thus requiring researchers to implement communication protocols and data processing routines using low-level programming practices that are tedious and cumbersome. Rich features available in modern desktop operating systems - such as threads, memory management, and exception-handling - are largely absent. The Microsoft.NET Micro Framework implements a scaled-back.NET framework suitable for development on low-cost, low-power wireless sensors, while providing developers a rapid software development environment for prototyping embedded applications. Here, this technology is explored by comparing performance characteristics with those of traditional 8-bit platforms, as well as Sun SPOT, a popular platform that also uses a managed-language runtime. The.NET Micro Framework platform was found to offer researchers the most flexibility in terms of hardware and software prototyping.