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How .NET Affects the User

The .NET platform has the potential to profoundly affect the user experience—in a positive way. Before exploring this possibility, consider the current computing model. At present, user computing is primarily about hardware and operating systems. Users own hardware devices, such as PCs, lap-tops, or PDAs, and install software and configure those systems. Data is primarily managed and manipulated (and lost!) on those systems. Because of the growth of technology, home and office PC hardware has grown as well. Who would have ever thought that a typical user might actually need a 13 Gb hard drive? The current computing model causes a lot of problems because people use their computers so much in today's world. Users must take care of their own data and hardware, and the Internet is often nothing more than a glorified toy.

.NET has the potential to change that approach. Because of the power of the Internet, users no longer need to have all data and software on their personal computers. Instead, this data and even application use can be stored on a server on the Internet, usually at a nominal fee. This feature removes user responsibility in terms of management. Users access and manipulate data, but the administrators on the server end manage backup, fault tolerance, and configuration planning. Users do not need to keep the data local. Once the data is moved to the Internet, the .NET strategy comes into play. Remember that .NET provides a way to transfer data seamlessly through XML and SOAP.

Let's consider an example. Let's say you are working on an office PC, and you decide to buy some stock. You access the Web site, use personal information about yourself, perhaps with Microsoft HailStorm, and purchase the stock. At a later time, you're sitting in rush-hour traffic. You use your cell phone to check on your stock prices and decide that now is a great time to sell. You use your cell phone to complete the transaction. As you can see, data is being manipulated on the server end with no worries about applications or platform compatibility, and your personal information follows you wherever you go. Overall, .NET has the possibility to make the Internet more than a simple, passive, multimedia experience. It gives the Internet the ability to become a true interactive data source—a place where users manage all aspects of their lives from work and personal finances to entertainment.

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