Gartner Research

Weaving the Future: Microsoft's .NET Initiative

Published: 05 April 2001

ID: G0097194

Analyst(s): Daryl Plummer , Thomas Bittman , Chris Le Tocq, Michael Calvert, Mark Driver , David Smith , Whit Andrews


Management Summary Microsoft's latest Internet platform strategy, named .NET, represents its vision for the future of the Internet, based on Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). .NET also represents Microsoft's view of the next-generation Internet as consisting of services, which are accessed by devices that interact with services and content. In this respect, .NET is similar to the component concept that Microsoft and others championed in the 1990s. .NET is also an end-to-end strategy that encompasses all aspects of Microsoft's business, including: o Platforms and tools o Consumer and small-business services from Microsoft Network (MSN) and bCentral o Knowledge worker applications -- i.e., Office and next-generation Digital Dashboard technology based on a new compound information architecture Microsoft's software-as-a-service vision is different from the first generation of the application service provider model as it has typically been implemented -- .NET is componentized, rather than based on monolithic, hosted applications. Considerable confusion surrounds .NET, largely due to Microsoft's rather indiscriminate use of the term. It is important, therefore, that when enterprise managers consider .NET, they first consider all the possible meanings of this term and then answer questions in the appropriate context. .NET is a strategic shift to software-as-a-service, but it is also a set of programming models -- i.e., a platform. This Strategic Analysis Report addresses how .NET will affect Microsoft's technology, especially its platforms and the tools used to create them. It also examines .NET's strategic implications for the possible breakup of Microsoft by the U.S. Justice Department. The following Strategic Planning Assumptions are presented in this report: o Through 2003, the primary form of Web services will be component invocation and "information push" for more than 75 percent of services delivered...

Table Of Contents
  • Management Summary
  • Introduction: What Is .NET? Separating the Meanings
    • The .NET User Experience Focus
  • .NET Describes Two Programming Models
    • The .NET Web Services Programming Model
    • The .NET System Programming Model
  • C#: What the World Needs Now?
    • Visual Basic and Visual C++: Ease of Use vs. Power
    • C# to the Rescue
    • Some C# Caveats
    • C# and Java
    • Can C# Become a Standard?
  • VS.NET: Targeting E-Business Through Web Services
    • The Future of VS.NET: The Emphasis Is on .NET
    • VS.NET: A Better Workbench?
    • VS.NET Pros and Cons
    • Microsoft and Java: Shared Dominance
    • A Unified Development Environment
  • Where COM Fits In
    • Explicit vs. Implicit COM
    • COM Is Not a Strategy
  • Microsoft Servers and Operating Systems: Not Yet .NET
    • Enterprise Servers
    • Windows Infrastructure
  • MSN.NET and bCentral: Good Showcases, Uncertain Anchors
    • Looking Both Ways
  • Office.NET: Microsoft’s Web Productivity Application Service
    • Subscription-Only Pricing: Keeping the Revenue Flowing
    • Subscription-Based PCSs: A Strong Individual Focus
    • XML and Content Creation and Distribution: Working With Office
    • Universal Canvas: A PC-Friendly Interface
  • The .NET Platform: Key to Microsoft’s “Plan B”
    • The Judicial Remedy: The Recognition of the Importance of Tools
    • Microsoft’s .NET Strategy: Hedging Against Uncertainty
  • Conclusion
  • .NET — A (Very) Tentative Timetable
  • Acronym Key

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