.NET: Fated to Succeed
I remember a time, not that many years ago, when I doubted Microsoft's bet-the-company strategy around .NET. For all its breadth, the impetus for the Microsoft .NET Framework wasn't breathtaking innovation. It was a defensive tactic writ large -- a move inspired by a programming environment, Java, with a managed infrastructure of its own.
Looking back now, it's easy to think that .NET was fated to succeed. But Microsoft, which had fought long and hard up the consumer stack to be taken seriously in the corporate realm, was facing a serious enterprise threat from Java in 2001.
Microsoft posed a serious threat to itself as well. The decision to transition Visual Basic to the managed environment still ignites passionate debate among developers, many of whom remain dissatisfied with the bulk, speed and complexity of the .NET version of Visual Basic. And we've seen years of troubled coexistence between the marquee .NET languages, C# and Visual Basic, as Microsoft struggled to fit both sensibly under its managed vision.
The early branding around .NET was a calamity in itself, with every product, technology and strategy aligned on the .NET brand until the term, predictably, ceased to mean anything at all. It took a hard right turn by Microsoft to reclaim .NET and give it coherent meaning.
Yet, look where we are now. In 2010 alone, Microsoft has unleashed major updates to the .NET Framework, Visual Studio, Windows Azure, Office, SharePoint, SQL Server, Silverlight, Expression and more. Developers are gaining new resources and capabilities to leverage both the broad Microsoft stack and the realm of standards-based Web services. A .NET developer today is able to do so much more than he could do just 12 months ago.
By most any measure, that sounds like success to me.
Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.