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.NET Programming: What Is .NET?

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Learn where Microsoft is going with the .NET initiative, and study the terminology, features, and services offered by the .NET Framework.
This chapter is from the book

.NET is Microsoft's new initiative for building applications regardless of the platforms or languages in use. The .NET label applies to three distinct but related items: a vision for how information technology (IT) will evolve, a software platform to build .NET applications, and an application-hosting business designed to support the vision and market the platform. In this chapter, we inspect each of these items from a fairly nontechnical perspective. By the end of the chapter, the readers will have a good idea of where Microsoft is going with the .NET initiative and will understand the terminology, features, and services offered by the .NET Framework, the software platform for .NET applications.


In June 2000, Microsoft announced the .NET initiative—a major shift in the technical direction for Microsoft and a major shift for those engaged in developing software based on Microsoft tools and technologies.

The label .NET has been applied to three distinct entities. They are:

  1. A vision of how software will evolve to take advantage of the Internet and encompass the increasing variety of computing devices that are joining the PC in customers' offices, pockets, and homes.

  2. A software platform to help developers build such applications and also to address some long-time shortcomings of Windows.

  3. An application-hosting business that will deliver applications as services over the Internet.

In the rest of the chapter, we examine these three ideas in detail.

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