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Salon: Microsoft's .Net: Visionary or vaporware?

Jun 30, 2000, 15:00 (11 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Scott Rosenberg)

"Microsoft's leaders themselves had trouble defining the ".Net vision" at the rollout event last week. There was a lot of talk about "the cloud" -- a network engineer's term meaning "the whole mess of stuff that's out there somewhere on the Net" -- and the cloudiness seemed to seep into the language every time someone tried to explain .Net to the crowd. Here, for instance, is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer attempting to clarify:

.Net represents a set, an environment, a programming infrastructure that supports the next generation of the Internet as a platform. It is an enabling environment for that ... .Net is also a user environment, a set of fundamental user services that live on the client, in the server, in the cloud, that are consistent with and build off that programming model. So, it's both a user experience and a set of developer experiences, that's the conceptual description of what is .Net."
"So ... it's an environment and an infrastructure and a platform and a set of services and a whole bunch of different experiences. This is the classic language of vaporware: Software products that do not yet exist but that companies feel compelled to announce in an effort to cow competitors and wow investors."

"...there's one big problem with .Net that I think is likely to prove an Achilles' heel. Gates and his team made a point last week of bowing in the direction of Napster as an example of how the Internet is moving toward many-to-many interactivity, where every computer connected can be both server and client. That's true enough -- but Napster is also an example of how today's Net generates its own software winners in bubble-up-from-below fashion."

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