This is something I've been meaning to blog for a while (no matter how skimpy the readership)...

.NET is nothing special. You've been able to do everything that's "new and unique" about .NET for some time, though obviously not using C# or the exact syntax of VB.NET. There are a few improvements of importance that vary depending on who you ask and what they program (like replacing dlls without having to stop the server), but conceptually .NET is doing very little new. COM, RMI, CORBA have all had the same ideas and, as pointed out in the above link, there was nothing stopping people from creating a web service in the pre-.NET world. Even without a VB SOAP toolkit, it wouldn't take you longer than getting familiar with the SOAP specification at before you were rolling your own.

What's so important, if that's the right word, is the vigor with which Microsoft is pushing the methodolgies that underlie web services and other forms of distributed computing down your throat. Ashes to ashes and dumb terms to dumb terms, we're starting to come full circle in the world of computing with respect to where the power lies. Just like UNIX has done for years, we're using centralized processing power and centralized services in .NET to power our new web apps. Now, of course, however, we've got nearly every computer in the world at our disposal. Somewhat like the SETI@home program is for ole ssl.berkeley, .NET will allow us to use any Joe Corp's business logic from anywhere in the world!!!! (please pronounce the italicized text in a Conan O'Brien "In the Year 2000" voice).

The biggest difference here, of course, is that these distributed services won't be free. And we'll quite possibly be "beholden" (quotes just b/c that's a 50 cent word for "sold-out to" -- more of a 50 crown word, as it's a bit on the dated side) to Microsoft for the quick, out of the box solution for collecting on that business logic. So the glue holding the new distributed computing world together, in the mind of someone named Gates or Ballmer or Smith or something, comes [at an oh so reasonable cost] from our good friends at Microsoft.

As I've said to coworkers, family, and friends for a while, it's not that Microsoft has bad ideas. They have great ideas (cut out the y2k voice already!), they just tend to run them through this "profit maximization machine". Is that wrong? Is it incredible to believe a company in Americas, whose gov't at the very least implicitly endorses capitalism as the national religion, is trying to make money? Probably not. ;^)

Anyhow, bottom line, .NET is more important b/c of the amount of press and propaganda it gives to distributing computing using WSDL (see here and here) and SOAP than it is any mind-bending advances in technology. Matured solutions to an old but still juvenile in its implementations tech? Something like that.

Boy that came out more of a ramble than I'd hoped.