Microsoft has created an advanced new generation of software that will drive the Next Generation Internet. This initiative is called Microsoft® .NET, and its purpose is to make information available any time, any place, on any device.
The driving force behind Microsoft .NET is a shift in focus from individual Web sites or devices to new constellations of computers, devices, and services that work together to deliver broader, richer solutions. People will have control over how, when, and what information is delivered to them. Computers, devices, and services will be able to collaborate directly with each other, and businesses will be able to offer their products and services in a way that lets customers embed them in their own electronic fabric.
What .NET Means for You
The Microsoft .NET platform will fundamentally change the way that computers and users interact. By bringing employees, customers, data, and business applications into a coherent and intelligently interactive whole, .NET will allow businesses to benefit from radically increased efficiency and productivity. To get a sense of the opportunities that .NET will provide, let's look at today's situation:
- The mechanisms by which people can interact with computers are extremely limited-generally to a keyboard and mouse for input, and a monitor for output.
- User information is principally a local phenomenon. If you log in from a different machine, your preferences, data, and applications are not accessible.
- Users must directly act on information, rather than setting intelligent preferences that then automatically act on the user's behalf.
- Data for the same user across different applications and sites is difficult-or impossible-to automatically integrate into a single, coherent view for the user.
- Users who want to work from home or on the move are constrained in their access to applications and data that reside only on their machines at work, creating a barrier to additional productivity.
- Data designed for a particular device-whether it's a PC, a pager, a cell phone, or a PDA-cannot be directly accessed from other devices. At best, it can be periodically synchronized.
.NET promises to address all these deficiencies. It will do this by realizing the vision of enabling access to all of a user's data and applications anywhere and from any device. In addition, .NET technologies will enable both loosely coupled and tightly coupled linking of applications in logical ways.
Data: Secure, Universally Accessible
Users will be able to interact with their data through handwriting, speech, and vision technologies. Their data will live securely on the Internet so that they can access it from their PCs at work and at home, from their cell phones or pagers, from their PDAs, and even from the combination pager/cell phone/PDA-PC device that's on the horizon. Applications will be able to gracefully adapt the functionality they offer to the limitations and opportunities presented by the device with which the user is interacting. Applications will be able to act on a user's behalf, based on a predefined set of preferences and directives.
All of this will work together to make users significantly more productive in their use of computing technologies. .NET is designed to take people beyond worrying about how they need to interact with their computers, freeing them to focus on what to do with their computers to perform their tasks and accomplish their goals. Activities that are still hard now-like reconciling statements from a number of different banks, credit-card companies, and billing agents so that you can pay your bills and file your expense reports -will become much easier as user data can be linked across sites and applications.
New Kinds of Applications, New Ways to Develop Them
These changes will arise from a new generation of applications, created and connected by today's software developers using the .NET platform, with XML as an industry standard. From a technical standpoint, .NET will change the way that applications can be developed, and it will also enable the creation of whole new kinds of applications. .NET extends the ideas of both the Internet and operating systems by making the Internet itself the basis of a new operating system. Ultimately, this will allow developers to create programs that transcend device boundaries and fully harness the connectivity of the Internet in their applications.
Businesses will thus benefit from radically increased efficiency and productivity, as .NET brings employees, customers, data, and business applications into a coherent and intelligently interactive whole. In short, .NET promises a world of business without boundaries.