Microsoft® .NET is the Microsoft Web services solution, which will significantly change how people interact with applications and devices via the Web. Find out how Microsoft .NET could change your computing experience by reading answers to these frequently asked questions.

What is Microsoft .NET?
.NET is the Microsoft solution for Web services, the next generation of software that connects our world of information, devices, and people in a unified, personalized way.

.NET technology enables the creation and use of XML-based applications, processes, and websites as services that share and combine information and functionality with each other by design, on any platform or smart device, to provide tailored solutions for organizations and individual people.

.NET is a comprehensive family of products, built on industry and Internet standards, that provide for each aspect of developing (tools), managing (servers), using (building block services and smart clients) and experiencing (rich user experiences) Web services. .NET will become part of the Microsoft applications, tools, and servers you already use today—as well as new products that extend Web service capabilities to all of your business needs. Learn more about:


What is a .NET experience?
The Microsoft .NET experience is a dramatically more personal, integrated computing experience using connected Web services delivered through smart devices.

Personal and integrated experience. In contrast to silos of information divided by provider, .NET experiences are centered around the user, integrating their data and preferences into a single application.

Connected Web services. Through the use of XML and SOAP, a range of services tailored to the needs of the user can be fed into a single, integrated experience.

Interactions delivered through smart devices. Users experience .NET through their interactions with smart devices. Smart devices are Web enabled appliances, such as personal computers, handheld computers, and smart phones, with software that makes them more intelligent in their interactions with users, the network, information, other devices, and services.

What is an example of a .NET experience?
A .NET experience is analogous to a user's interaction with a current standalone application, with three important differences, described through this example:

Imagine you wanted to turn up the heat in your house while you were away from home. You could use a .NET experience that controls your household utilities through a smart device. The device you use could be your desktop computer while you were at the office, your smart phone while you were driving to the grocery store, or a kiosk while you were shopping for dinner ingredients.
The uniqueness of the .NET experience in this example is:

Each of these devices generates a different interface for the .NET experience. The desktop computer might present a graphical map and accept mouse input. The smart phone could give you verbal options and ask you to push a button to specify your choice. The kiosk may have a touch screen and a small set of temperature options. You're using the same .NET experience to perform the same task, but you see a distinct interface, which is appropriate to the device.

.NET experiences are location-independent. Taking advantage of the strengths of both locally-installed and Web-based applications, .NET experiences can be accessed both online and offline. In the previous example, you could use a .NET experience no matter where you are: at work, in the car, or at the store.

.NET experiences are personalized. .NET experiences read a user's preferences and profile information, stored in building block services, and automatically incorporate the user's information and preferences into what's being presented. In the previous example, when you're turning on the heat, the .NET experience already knows where you live, based on your log-in ID. You don't need to enter an address.

What solutions does .NET offer?
Microsoft .NET solves several core problems underlying software development today:

Software Development Concern .NET Solution
Interoperability, integration, and application extensibility are difficult and expensive. The use of XML—an open standard managed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)—removes barriers to data sharing and software integration.
Competing proprietary software technologies make integration difficult. Microsoft .NET is built on open standards and embraces all programming languages.
The end user experience isn't simple or compelling. End users can't easily share data among their applications or act on that information. XML makes it easy to exchange data, and .NET software gives users the ability to work with the data once it's received.
End users don't control their personal information and data when working on the Web, leading to privacy and security concerns that cripple the acceptance of Web-based software. Microsoft .NET provides a set of central services that helps users manage their personal information and protect against unauthorized access to that information.


What .NET Means for Developers and IT


How manageable is .NET?
Microsoft has many tools and technologies designed to make .NET technology manageable—now and as applications evolve. The reliance of XML and SOAP as underlying technologies for .NET ensures greater system interoperability between systems, improving the management of applications and services.

Current technologies and products include:

Microsoft Windows® 2000 Server to manage directory, events, and distributed clients.
Windows 2000 Datacenter Server for guaranteed reliability.
Microsoft SQL Server™ 2000 to manage XML data.
Microsoft BizTalk® Server to manage events, processes, and contracts across diverse systems.
Microsoft Application Center Server to manage clusters.
Digital Rights Management (DRM) for managing authorization of content.
Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) to promote Web services to third parties.

How scalable is .NET?
Through the use of .NET technology—the ability to reuse and update Web services on the fly as well as distributing computing power across multiple devices—.NET offers a highly scalable solution.

Scale out with Windows 2000 Server, SQL Server 2000, and Application Center 2000.

Scale up with Windows 2000 Server and SQL Server 2000.

Use smart devices and Web services to break the linear scaling dynamic. By distributing computing to the edge of the network (where there is an abundance of computing power), the bottleneck of server processing power can be removed. By making it simple for the services which are the building blocks of applications to be distributed anywhere on the network, other bottlenecks can be eliminated or minimized, as well.

How does .NET address security and privacy concerns?
.NET will provide strong privacy protection by helping users manage their personal data. Users will dictate which people and applications can access or alter particular pieces of their personal data. These permissions are associated with binding privacy policies which outlive specific transactions.

Effective security requires a combination of secure software and good operational practices, physical security, and license agreements. Some of the current and upcoming software security programs and technologies that are part of the .NET solution include:

Windows 2000 for Kerberos, the Microsoft Active Directory® service, PKI, EFS, and IP Sec.

Building block services for experiences that are simple and protected through technologies that help users control the data they own.

XML messaging interfaces on the building block services, which enable auditing and accountability.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) for authorization of content.

Why should developers choose .NET instead of other XML solutions?
Microsoft .NET technology delivers the following unique benefits to developers:

It's easier, faster, and less expensive to build and integrate Web services through .NET tools (.NET Framework and Microsoft Visual Studio® .NET).

The user experience is richer and more compelling because of smart devices and information agents.

The .NET experience is personal and manageable because of identity-centric building block services, such as Connected Services.

It's built from the ground-up for the next generation of software with XML at the core.

What are the benefits of the .NET programming model and tools?
.NET Framework offer the following benefits to developers:

Best, fastest, and least expensive way to build Web services
Programming model designed from the ground up for Web services
High productivity, multi-language environment for building and running Web services
Scalable, high-performance execution, with the protection of industry-leading technologies
Multi-device support. Through Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Compact Framework, developers can use existing skills to create solutions for a wide range of devices.
When will Web services be available for .NET-connected software?
Thousands of developers have already begun building Web services using the .NET Framework and Visual Studio .NET Technology Previews, and Web services using SOAP and XML are being created every day. The first of these, Microsoft Passport, is already available and will continue to be enhanced as .NET evolves.


How .NET Works


Why does .NET employ XML?
XML is the common language of data exchange on the Internet. It provides a widely-embraced, open standard technology for data exchange and transformation, overcoming barriers to application and service interoperability and integration.


What's the difference between a Web service and a website?
Unlike websites, which are pictures of data designed to be viewed in a browser by a person, a Web service is designed to be accessed directly by another service or software application.


Web services are reusable pieces of software that interact programmatically over the network through industry recognized standards (XML and SOAP). Web services can be combined with each other and other applications to build intelligent interactive .NET experiences.


What are "smart devices"?
.NET uses software for smart devices to enable PCs, laptops, workstations, smart phones, handheld computers, Tablet PCs, game consoles, and other smart devices to operate in the .NET universe. A smart device is:

Smart about you. A smart device uses your .NET identity, profile, and data to simplify your experience and is smart about your presence, allowing tailoring of notifications in response to your presence or absence.

Smart about the network. A smart device is responsive to bandwidth constraints, provides support for both online and offline use of applications, and understands which services are available.

Smart about information. A smart device allows you to access, analyze, and act on data anywhere anytime.

Smart about other devices. A smart device discovers and announces PCs, other smart devices, servers, and the Internet; knows how to provide services to other devices; smart about accessing information from the PC.

Smart about software and services. A smart device presents applications and data optimally for form factor; enables input methods and connectivity appropriate for great end-user interaction; consumes Web services using XML, SOAP, and UDDI; and programmable and extensible by developers.

How do servers fit into .NET?
Microsoft offers an integrated suite of servers that provide scalable, high-performance execution for the Enterprise and Web services, with the protection of industry-standard technologies. Because they are designed for deep level support of XML, they offer the best and least expensive way to run and manage Web services.


What is the role of Windows in .NET?
Microsoft Windows currently powers the ultimate smart device: the personal computer. Microsoft Windows XP will be able to consume Web services, such as photo services, as well as utilize Web services to publish to the Web. It will act as a hub for smart devices and interact in the next generation of peer-to-peer computing, real-time communications, and media services.

Microsoft Windows Server™ 2003 will include built-in support for XML and SOAP and will ship with the .NET Framework.

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