Soma recently announced that WinFX has now been rechristened “.NET 3.0,” which by the way includes .NET 2.0. I really liked the name WinFX, but the .NET name is well-recognized.
Early on in its history, .NET brand caused much confusion. Dennis Forbes recalls the .NET naming fiasco in his post “As If .NET Wasn’t Confusing Enough” about how each Microsoft product included a meaningless .NET suffix: Office.NET, Windows Server.NET, Exchange.NET. He refers to Joel, who wrote “Microsoft Goes Bonkers” about meaningless but ubiquitous use of the .NET moniker. The .NET suffix was eventually purged from every product except the framework.
What were Microsoft marketers really thinking with the .NET branding ploy? I recently discovered there was some sense behind the madness.
Before the “security” push and even now, there was a whole other push towards “services.” That initiative was called Hailstorm, which was lead by distinguished engineer, Mark Lucovsky. Hailstorm eventually foundered because of legality issues involved with hosting people’s data on the web. Mark left the company for Google, but not before writing a blog post complaining that Microsoft no longer knows how to ship software.
The idea of Hailstorm was that people’s documents would reside on massive Microsoft servers and applications would become more web-based or service-oriented. Mark distills out the core concepts of Hailstorm and notes that some aspects of Hailstorm survived and materialized in recent products.
Network Centric, Extensible Data Model, for Everyday Data Data Decoupled from Applications Anytime, Anyplace, and from Any Device Access Identity Centric Data Access
I had previously criticized the paucity of features in Microsoft Office 2003, thinking it was due to a broken development process, but a couple of ex-Microsoftees recently told me that Office 2003, originally Office.Net, had bet heavily on Hailstorm. A mysterious project in Office called NetDocs had been started to enable user interaction of Office documents over the web, and Office poured all its resources into web integration. Unfortunately, Hailstorm was cancelled and Office lost the bet. Outlook 2003, which was naturally web-based, didn’t suffer much from the cancellation, and, consequently, had the most new features. The primary feature of the other Office applications were XML integration, an important part of the Hailstorm story as Mark wrote “HailStorm was based on an XML data model.” A sliver of NetDocs survived to become the product InfoPath. (I thought that “NetDocs” may have been confused with “XDocs,” the original code name for InfoPath, but this article links the two). There are still rumors of a future fully web-based version of Office.
Also, it seems to me that the original focus of the .NET Framework was ASP.NET and Web Services.