.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.

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.

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Reader Comments:

Fri, Dec 30, 2011 AndrewDover

And after a year, still none of the top mobile smartphones use .NET. Let us revist this story after another year of Win Phone 7 sales

Tue, Jun 7, 2011 Theo

.Net is succesfull because the killing of VB Classic and Foxpro. With nowhere else to go (except maybe for delphi), .net was fated for success.

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 Munich, Germany

Disappointing article. Gives no arguments for its apparent success (some statistics?). Anyway, I still believe that it's being a success from looking at the big amount of libraries and frameworks emerging in disparate and demanding domains like machine learning and web programming. I believe that efforts like the Mono project, to make .NET technology available in Linux/Unix, Mac, iPhone and iPad platforms, will make .NET still more competitive against Java. But Mono needs to mature still.

Fri, Nov 12, 2010 Sudesh Sawant India

I have been using .Net from version 1.1. My shift to .Net development was not by choice though. I appreciate where .Net is now, though there may be still things left to do. My experience with .Net has been mixed. There were many performance issues with 1.1. In the softwares that we develop, performance expectations are high. There are not your day to day business applications. Here .Net didnt fit well. But gradually the performance improved. But still there are many embarrassing issues with the Framework. Overall 3.5 marks ;) of 5 for .Net.

Fri, Nov 5, 2010 AndrewDover

None of the top mobile smartphones use .NET. Let us revist this story after a year of Win Phone 7 sales.

Thu, Nov 4, 2010 JOAT.MOM United Kingdom

I love .net and was expecting a great article here but looking at this I am very disappointed. I came here from MSDN as well. come on MS you can do better. Not one of the best articles Michael Desmond has written!

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 Kathleen Erickson Colorado

Where things have "fragmented" in the .NET world other technologies which provide interoperability step in to save the day. The fragmentation just provides an opportunity for others to provide solutions which simplify the data access layer. I think the challenges with data access will only increase as enterprises merge data from mixed environments. By that I mean .NET and Java will have to play nicely with one another and perhaps Flash and Silverlight will need to do the same...maybe...maybe not. Don't think for a moment you are up a creek if you want to integrate your with some new or emerging client technology. You are not.

Thu, Sep 2, 2010


Tue, Aug 31, 2010 Girish Mumbai

Surely .NET has evolved tremendously and is continuing to do so with a lot more flexibility in the offering in terms of developer productivity and catering to the huge demand of "Do More With Less Effort"..

Wed, Aug 25, 2010 Keith Columbia, MD

Sure .NET isn't perfect but it's damn good. I've loved it from the beginning because it provided a very powerful, strongly-typed, easy-to-follow library that encapsulated common tasks (connecting to databases, web forms, etc). At first it was simply a competitor to Java, though much easier to use. Now it is light years ahead of anything else. Again, not perfect, but still the best choice for developers who don't want to be quagmired in low level coding and cryptic modules.

Fri, Aug 20, 2010 Twain Los Angeles

With a pointer to this article from the MSDN Magazine Blog, I expected a rich article describing the development history details and an insider's view of .NET design decision made, etc. Instead, I land on this vacuous, pitiful, silly little article with zero depth. What was the point of this .NET article??

Tue, Aug 17, 2010 Andrew Amesbury, Ma

Truthfully .Net is a great platform for desktop apps with no high performance demands. It allows EE's to pretend they are Software Engineers and try's to "remove the burden" of actually neding to know what you are doing in order to produce safe software. There are still huge UI performance issues however, which will cause developers heartache if they are looking for a responsive UI application with more than a few controls. Don't get me wrong,.Net does help those of us who actually care about producing high quality, professional software by supplying a more sensible design for accessing lower level functions while still allowing access to faster unmanaged DLLs when performance necessary.

Mon, Aug 9, 2010 Johnny American

Wow, lots of haters here. I guess all these jealous tards program C++ on Linux at their job, and own a Mac at home. Or they're in an even smaller esoteric obscure niche no one has ever heard of. Fortunately, I don't have to give a &hit what they think. I'm making a fantastic incoming programming in .NET and will probably have an entire lifetime career on it, and love it.

Sun, Jul 25, 2010 Ron Milne

I can't believe I actually read this, utter tripe.

Thu, Jul 22, 2010

... and the .Net reality distortion bubble grows bigger...

Wed, Jul 14, 2010 Rod Mac

.NET was indeed 'fated to succeed', it was a cohesive platform where the 'only' difference for web and Windows apps was of course the UI. I use the word 'was' because now things have fragmented. Silverlight is not a subset of WPF, so we have three UI technologies. WCF RIA services have fragmented the data layer - you can't use a common data access technology across the three or easily leverage your old WinForms and ASP.NET apps to take advantage of emerging technologies. So I think we're moving backwards again when all that needed to happen was to redesign and align WPF and Silverlight. If they couldn't ever be the same, surely if one wanted to change from cross browser, SL libraries could be straight swapped with a lightweight WPF client. I don't understand why data access had to be changed for SL, probably just change for the sake of. The appeal of .NET will fade without a true convergence. That's where Android and iPhone are going to appeal, they're single cohesive stacks.

Sun, Jul 11, 2010 Phil Chicago, IL

I love it when critics rejoice when their predictions come true and never apologize when they end up being flat-out wrong. I read your rant but you forgot to apologize for being wrong.

Fri, Jul 9, 2010 John Donnelly Las Vegas

Evolving an operating system and a concomitant development framework to go with it takes a lot of updates and roll-outs. Especially if you have a vision for the utility of the computer in the long run. I think .net is a natural progression in the eveloution of Windows and I am excited about the opportunities to develop awesome apps that are secure and efficient and don't take as zillion man-hours to code!

Mon, Jul 5, 2010

"Success" isn't Microsoft rolling out tons of updates to their own .NET products. I might interpret those moves in two (three?) words: "muscle" or "self-fulfilling". In the first case, Microsoft could be seen as attempting to strong-arm us once again into doing their bidding. In the second case, Microsoft could say "Look at all the .NET products; they must be successful!"

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