"All hail .Net!"

By Peter Wright

By Salon Staff
Published February 14, 2002 7:17PM (EST)

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Stop it! Those pom poms are hurting me!

-- Mike

I'm speechless with shock and horror. .Net is a mechanism designed by Microsoft to lock its users into its products, forever, with zero personal privacy. Saying this is a "boon to mankind" ... If Microsoft had been proven innocent in the recent antitrust hearings, rather than guilty of felonies, I might be able to put some faith in its intended uses of the Passport information, which is, or will be, gathered as a mandatory part of using .Net. If Microsoft had abided by the restrictions placed on it in 1998, rather than showing contempt for the laws and breaking them, I could believe it was reforming. As it stands, I can only regard Microsoft's intentions as criminal in all avenues, as well as against the public interest. This has been shown in a court of law twice now; I have no remaining expectation that Microsoft will reform willingly.

With regret I say that by publishing this article, you have lost my respect.

-- Tom Ammon

Who is Peter Wright and what has he done with Andrew Leonard? At first, I thought I was reading a satire piece; then I realized I was reading a press release. (".Net marks the third age of computing -- embrace it." Hmmm ... ) I suppose I can't fault Mr. Wright for trying to drum up business, seeing as he's got two books on .Net technology coming out soon.

But seriously, while Microsoft is to be cautiously commended for submitting at least parts of its .Net core technologies to standards bodies (whereas Sun has been unfortunately tightfisted with its Java technologies), .Net is hardly innovative. XML has been in use for an eternity by IT standards and was not handed down by Bill Gates from on high. Similarly, SOAP seems to be Microsoft's embrace-and-extend answer to RPC, technology in use in the Unix world for over a decade. CIL's yet-to-be-proven "write once, run anywhere" promise sounds conspicuously like what Java bytecode has done for years.

I wonder whether companies who have yet to spend significant sums in building portable application services will jump for Microsoft's heavily marketed but unproven .Net; I can't imagine companies who already have investments in RPC and/or Java services spending the cash to switch to Microsoft's offering. In any case, I'm deeply skeptical of what Wright calls .Net's ability to transform the Internet into "a dynamic pool of data connected by a true web of Web services all working together to make your life easier." I think the last time Microsoft made my life easier was with the release of Word 5.1a for Macintosh. It's all been downhill from there.

-- Isaac Salpeter

By the time I reached Peter Wright's bio at the end of his orgiastic propaganda about Microsoft's .Net "vision" and its latest developer software package, I was actually relieved to discover he was a Visual Basic writer and had ulterior motives with his forthcoming Visual Studio .Net titles.

Mr. Wright is apparently unaware of the world outside of Microsoft. He presents with great awe the prospect of an independent Perl programmer sharing his code with a corporate Cobol developer. This has been happening for some time, and there are even Web sites where code is readily available.

He blithely skips over the point that Gates' vision is an attempt by Microsoft to control the underlying infrastructure of connectivity so that a) it can get a piece of every commercial action and b) control and sell of a lot of development tools and controller code while completely wiping out any competition. In other words, the "vision" of .Net is not only to maintain but expand Microsoft's monopoly.

Mr. Wright failed to mention that this "must have" Visual Studio .Net software runs only on a Microsoft platform and works only with Microsoft-based systems.

As for comparing Gates to Henry Ford or Gutenberg or Babbage, I think if Wright does a modicum of research, he'll find that John D. Rockefeller is closer to the mark.

-- Carolyn Cooper

I am writing to comment on Peter Wright's column branding .Net as the second technological coming.

The article was the most naive, superficial piece of writing I have seen in some time.

I was not at all surprised to see Wright's history with Visual Basic. To someone steeped in VB, C#/CLR might seem like the second coming. It's not so much that .Net is so wonderful, it's more that the old VB development paradigm sucked. It doesn't take much to seem great when your past alternative was so bad.

To Wright I have to say: "Great! I'm glad you like the Java paradigm! I'm sorry it took MS's implementation of it to get you to use it."

Wright's article is a wonderful example of how Microsoft's monopoly has much of the tech industry hoodwinked. Many developers have been locked into thinking VB is the only language under the sun and Windows the only OS. Understandably, to them .Net and C#/CLR seem like a revelation. If MS didn't have such tight control over them, they might see that C#/CLR is just a slightly better implementation of Java. These developers aren't familiar with Java, however, because MS has such totalitarian control over the industry.

Wright's article is steeped in naiveti. Open source embracing it? Please. One only has to take a look at Slashdot or any other independent tech site to realize how much of a furor C#/CLR has caused. Open source advocates are in arms because a single, albeit influential group (with historical ties to MS) has embraced it. If Wright knew anything about open source, he might have thought more about characterizing the majority of the open source community vis-`-vis one member.

Wright also seems to be duped by MS's claim that .Net can miraculously run any code from any language without alteration. Not true. Again, review any site such as Slashdot, and you'll see how much many of these languages have to be butchered in order to run on the CLR. Sure, they'll run, as long as they are written to run on the CLR. Every language is equal, but some languages are more equal than others.

To brand the criticisms of MS as trite opinions, or simply the "cool" thing to say, is equally naive. Need anyone remind Wright that MS has been solidly convicted of illegal monopolistic practices? And because of those manipulative Machiavellian practices is facing a slew of lawsuits from governments, individuals and industry? Just recently the States asked MS to open the Windows source code. Was that the result of a "fad"?

No. Criticisms of MS are entirely legitimate, and everyone has every right to be concerned about MS's practices, including .Net. MS has repeatedly shown disrespect for the rights of individuals and corporations with regard to freedom and privacy. Given this pattern of behavior, we should be cautious about jumping on the .Net bandwagon.

If Wright is to make comparisons of biblical proportions, I suggest he make reference to a different sort of coming: that of the antichrist. It is silly, but then again, so is Wright.

-- Saul Levinson

Bill Gates has contributed to humanity as much as Gutenberg? Sure, I knew he has donated a lot to charity, but ...

Oh. It's a paean to .Net, specifically Visual Studio.Net. On the same day the lead story on many tech sites is the exploit of a buffer overflow problem in Visual Studio.Net. And an MSN Messenger virus that steals Passport login information -- something that is very, very scary when that information may be used to open most doors on the Internet.

I had to check my calendar twice to make sure I hadn't somehow missed six weeks of my life.

Is .Net an important story? Of course. But it is also a story with many shades of gray. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and Microsoft has a sad track record of rushing to market with poorly thought out products. Nothing drives this point home harder than the concurrent MSN Messenger worm and the casual hand waving about security in this puff piece. (If hackers get your Passport login because of a bug in Visual Studio.Net, they can log in as you and enable full disclosure!)

The ultimate consequence of this puff piece is that I can never take another Salon story seriously. That article on how one company has bought up the FM radio spectrum -- maybe it was written by the second-place firm. The story on the Feds paying for antidrug messages in prime-time entertainment? Maybe it was written by the producers of an also-ran show.

-- Bear Giles

So where did you get this Peter Wright guy? Does he have a Redmond return address? He brings simplistic sycophancy to a new low -- maybe he's excited about .Net, but c'mon, Gates as Gutenberg? I could dismiss him as just another techie who lacks discrimination and writing skills, but this is a cheerleading piece for MS. I guess you have to give time to the other side, since most of your tech analysis has been (rightly) critical of MS -- embrace and extend, anyone?

-- David Witt

Don't you normally put the word "satire" in small type at the top of each page for articles like these?

-- Matthew Calef

This article was one of the worst pieces of self-serving journalism that I've had the displeasure of encountering at Salon.com.

One wonders how much Microsoft might have invested in Mr. Wright to encourage him to write such a fluff piece. On the other hand, Mr. Wright clearly has his own agenda -- to sell his own books on the specific subject that he is supposedly "covering" as a journalist.

As far as I'm concerned, .Net is a philosophy for corporations to .USE the Internet as a vehicle to make money. Nothing wrong with that in itself, but to say that these same corporations are out to "change the world" for my benefit is nothing less than self-serving bullshit.

If a "Star Trek" future requires me to hand over my wallet to Microsoft, I for one will vote for a "Flintstones" future and throw my computer out the window.

-- Michael Pierce

Peter Wright's gushing enthusiasm for .Net might have sounded plausible to me ten years earlier in my career as a programmer. Now, it just strikes me as more wide-eyed enthusiasm for The Next Big Thing. .Net provides an incremental improvement in a software developer's ability to write modular, reusable code that will interoperate with other developer's efforts. I'm sure it will be a successful and widely used tool. However, it shows little sign of healing the sick, feeding the starving or bringing enlightenment to the masses.

-- Michael Wolf

I never thought that Salon would run advertising as a story. To call Microsoft's upcoming platform "nirvana" and the "third age of computing" is fairly ridiculous, and it's amazing that that prose got past an editor.

It's fascinating that there are over two pages of glossing, rephrasing Microsoft's own verbiage of all the wonders .Net will bestow on us, and a shy small paragraph on the security nightmare that it and XP could possibly unleash on the computing industry and society in general.

The assumption, however, that all of these concepts are somehow the brainchild of Gates and his company is the most damnable. It's as fascinating as reading in a Microsoft-published book that MS invented DHTML. Doesn't the article itself mention that OSX already provides Web services? These trends are not new, computing has been moving toward them for years, and as usual, Microsoft is simply trying to dominate the situation.

Perhaps next time "Paid Advertisement" should follow the tagline.

-- Joshua Birk

Though Wright invokes several historical points, he seems to have conveniently forgotten Gates' vision statements over the last few years.

One may recall his Dick Tracy years, or how about the PC being the center of the home? And now we have "In Bill Gates' version of the way things will be, we will all carry around hand-held computers." IMHO, this (and other) bits of rhetoric contained in this piece draw serious questions about Wright's credibility.

Incidentally, unlike the Gutenberg printing press, Babbage's computing devices really have made little impact on the world.

-- Kirk Pepperdine

Great job glossing over the privacy and stability concerns and painting Gates as savior and genius. Did I miss the tongue-filled cheek or do the tech/biz editors at Salon find writers from Redmond?

The tech behind .Net is a culmination of thousands of the best minds in computer science, none of which is Bill Gates. Just like the Kerberos authentication technology or Web browsing ... MS is "embracing and extending. " (Hint: Extending means tweak subtly so it only runs with Windows.)

This sort of completely one-sided reporting is one of the reasons I wouldn't pay for Salon content. A piece focused on the possible gains of this type of technology, or the jockeying of position by the big software boys as a result of MS's focus on .Net, would have been a little less of an irritant on my retinas.

-- Gene Merrill

In "All Hail .Net" the author draws a comparison to the first printing of the Bible. How dare you make that kind of comparison? There is nothing new in .Net. It is just a new package for old tricks. What about COM, DCOM, COM+?: Did these not do much of what .Net does? In fact C# classes are COM objects. Same old thing, different name, yes!

So, yes .Net will change Windows development and get programmers to come back to things done in years past but that were dismissed as academic research. Much the same as the Java Virtual Machine has done. VMs have been around forever but are now in widespread use. .Net is the same with some fancy tools. Yes, much is good in .Net; however, that is because those things were good before Microsoft ever thought about them. .Net is not revolutionary nor new; Microsoft has just "embraced and extended" in its typical proprietary ways under the guise of "open" and "standards based." Sorry folks, the Unix shell is still here to stay.

What about this in regards to .Net's security? "A Microsoft Corp. technology for plugging a common security hole is vulnerable to the very attack it was designed to prevent, a prominent security consultancy said." .Net to the rescue; yeah, right!

-- John Pywtorak

In regards to "All Hail .Net!": Haven't we learned our lesson of overhyping the new new thing? First we overhyped e-commerce and deduced that all brick and mortar businesses that were not on the Net would be reduced to rubble. In parallel there was Java with its "write once run everywhere" motto; it, too, would create such a fundamental shift in our worlds that if you didn't get on the wagon now, you would be left in the dust. Now we have .Net. Take ten IT people who plan to implement .Net, ask them what .Net is and you'll get ten different answers, except all of them will say it will somehow change the world. Look at recent history and just ask yourself, has e-commerce destroyed traditional businesses? No. Has Java taken over application development? Not even close. Will .Net change our worlds? Probably not. Of course, what can you expect from an author who is about to release a couple of books on, you guessed it, .Net? If hype matched reality, we would all be traveling in flying cars. .Net is just the IT version of the flying car.

-- Mike Siley

As I first read through "All hail .Net!" I assumed it was a subtle satire, perhaps a little too subtle. It was hard for me to imagine that the author seriously intended the glowing praise he was heaping on Microsoft.

I'm really disappointed in Salon. I would expect something better than jumping on the Microsoft PR bandwagon.

-- Greg Owen

What a bunch of hagiographic crap! "All hail .Net! Microsoft's new software development tools are more than just nifty -- they are a great boon to humanity."

I expect your author is just a wee bit biased, as he seems to derive significant personal income, if not his entire livelihood, from .Net. Are you really so desperate for copy as to allow self-promoting gush like this to disgrace Salon?

I was looking for some kind of clear explanation about the .Net splash, and instead what I got was three pages of Microsoft PR.

Still can't understand your new model. I have to pay for "premium" content, like Huffington's weekly piece (which I can read for free later the same week in my local alternative weekly) even as you lower your general standards, as demonstrated by "All Hail .Net." (There should have at least been some amusing tongue-in-cheek in the piece to tone down a title so bombastic as this.)

I want my old Salon that was so great back!

-- Paul Werbaneth

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