The idea of Microsoft .Net is not new. Earlier the codename of the project was Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS). The concept contained the elaboration of new versions of the Windows system; Microsoft Office tools, Microsoft DNA servers, MSN services and also the Visual Studio programming package. Bill Gates, who wanted to devote himself fully to that enterprise, took up the duties of the main programming architect in January and said that Microsoft and its trade partners would lay the foundations of "the Internet of the new generation". Naturally there were many opponents to that idea who regarded it as an attempt to restrict the freedom and the privacy on the net. Events that shocked the world lately, such as the terrorist attacks in the USA, can really influence the shape of the new Internet. After these tragic events no one is sure any more whether we should be anonymous while using the services of the global network. The .NET Strategy is already much more visible in Microsoft products, so it is high time to look at what the wind of change is going to bring from Redmond.
The .NET platform will provide for easier use of computers, i.e. quicker and simpler access to necessary applications, unfailing communication and better security. These functions would all use the newest Internet standards i.e. the XML language (Extensible Markup Language) and the technology of ensuring the confidentiality based on the P3P specification.
The realization of this strategy is going to be based on subscription of services and applications that are indispensable for accomplishing the task. A number of applications and work environments have already been prepared (or will be prepared in the near future).
Windows .NET - is an operating system of a new generation. Tools and services, which will allow the home user, as well the business user to accomplish every single task are integrated into one place. Windows .NET will ensure an excellent basis for the programmers who want to create new .NET applications and services. It will offer programmable conditions of the user's work, which may be personalised not only by individual users but also by firms. This system will support all .NET group products such as MSN.NET, bCentral for .NET oraz Office.NET and the group of services created by independent producers.
MSN .NET - will use a new integrated client, which unites the dynamic WWW services of the MSN net, the content, .NET services construction elements and the service of the .NET tools, assuring complex, integrated conditions of the consumers' activity. MSN .NET will offer splendid access to the content and services of the independent producers and the widest range of tools based on the possibilities given by the .NET platform.
Consumer Subscription Services - Microsoft plans to work out a set of high quality .NET services, which will be able to offer a wide range of services directly to the consumer. Those services will be using existing Microsoft products from domains such as entertainment, games, education and office software packages.
Office.NET - this splendid product, well known by every Windows system user, is going to be fully adapted to the .NET platform as well. The Office .NET package will bring essential innovations yielding customer profit in four areas. The new original user's interface will optimize the way in which users cooperate with the service. The new architecture based on intelligent clients and services will assure a rich set of functions, high efficiency and automatic installation. The versatile services of cooperation will let all users work with other people within a company as well as outside it. The New Office will have the ability to work as an application on the computer or as a service available through the Internet as well.
BCentral for .NET - is a product designed for small businesses. Microsoft wants to place the Outlook Internet services, extended comercial services and new service CRM (Customer Relationship Managment) in one product, which is going to be called the bCentral. The Outlook Internet service will enable message sending based on web browsers and will also render an Internet directory accessible. This will allow the user to store files and have remote access to them as well as a calendar and a personal information agent through adjustments of the well-known Outlook interface. The extended comercial and CRM services will enable small businesses to improve customer requirements and satisfaction via the Internet.
Visual Studio .NET - is an XML programming model containing tools for quick creation of applications. This solution is going to ensure the possibility of creating applications quickly, which could be launched locally on the computer or in dispersed environments through the Internet.
Of course, a period of time is necessary for the introduction of the new model of Internet functioning. One must give time to the users to let them recognize and implement the .NET platform in their homes and enterprises. The new vision of a business that bases the framework of its web structure on the .NET platform is shown in Fig.1
Fig.1 Products from the Microsoft.NET Enterprise Servers group.
In fact, the .NET technology is not going to be introduced within one year. Even Microsoft cannot break the conservative nature of users, therefore market novelties may cause some concern. It is hard to demand quick promotion of new, properly tested solutions from the production environments. This is why you can not expect great revolutionary steps in introducing the .NET platform. However we already carry out many activities and are unconsciously using the .NET platform technology. The new attitude towards the global net will in the future be as obvious as the existence of the Internet nowadays, since, after all, it was only a few years ago that "the Internet" was a completly insignificant word.
The first accessible product that realizes the new Microsoft strategy is Windows 2000. Using it as a base, the products that are going to replace the old generation of the BackOffice products have been created very quickly. The new generation of the .NET Enterprise Server products consists of:
SQL Server 2000,
Exchange Server 2000,
BizTalk Server (BTS) 2000,
Application Center (AppCenter) 2000,
Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000,
Commerce Server 2000,
Host Integration Server 2000,
Microsoft Mobile Information 2001.
It is hard to judge what is going to happen to the .NET platform. Today it has many opponents, but 20 years ago, Bill Gates told users that 640kB would be enough for everyone. Keeping that in mind it is quite right to ask questions about the present shape of the global net. Maybe in the near future the .NET platform will make us all conscious of the fact that there is still the possibility of further developments and improvements.