Guide to Reviewing the Microsoft. Net framework

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Building Next-Generation Web Applications


The .NET Framework is an integral component of the Microsoft .NET Platform, the end-to-end Internet platform for rapidly building and deploying XML Web services and Web applications that integrate customers, businesses, and applications. The .NET Framework enables developers to rapidly create XML Web services and Web applications through the use of developer productivity features, such as multiple-language support, adherence to public Internet standards, and the use of a loosely coupled, scalable architecture. While many vendors sell application servers separately, Microsoft delivers a comprehensive set of Web application services fully integrated into the Windows operating systems and available through the .NET Framework.

Loosely Coupled Designs Enable Scalability

The core XML Web services technologies on which the .NET Framework is built are loosely coupled, which means you can change the implementation at either end of a connection and the application will continue to work. Technically, this translates to using message-based, asynchronous technology to achieve scalability and reliability, and using Web protocols such as HTTP, SMTP, and most importantly, XML to achieve universal reach.

Leverage Operating System Services

Because other solutions try to provide identical functionality across many different platforms, these solutions are limited to a least-common denominator approach, which means that services provided by the operating system are abandoned and recreated from scratch. In contrast, the .NET Framework design pattern is engineered to exploit the power and flexibility of the operating system.

Multilanguage Support

With the .NET Framework, developers can take advantage of the programming language they are most comfortable with or use the language that is best suited to the job at hand. Having objects of one language call into objects of another may not be new, but the .NET Framework takes this a step further by enabling developers to use cross-language implementation inheritance and cross-language debugging—all of this with a single, easy-to-use, unified class library.

Standards Based

The .NET Framework is based on Extensible Markup Language (XML) and the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), which are standards overseen by standards bodies. In addition, key parts of the .NET Framework are being submitted to ECMA for standardization. This is much a safer solution than one wholly owned and controlled by a single company.

Appendix A

What is .NET?

Simply put, Microsoft .NET is Microsoft's strategy for delivering software as a service. For complete information, read the white paper at

An excerpt from that paper briefly describes the key points of .NET:

  • Microsoft .NET platform
    Includes the Microsoft .NET infrastructure and tools to build and operate a new generation of services; the .NET user experience to enable rich clients, .NET building block services; and .NET device software to enable a new generation of smart Internet devices.

  • Microsoft .NET products and services
    Include Microsoft Windows .NET (with a core integrated set of building block services), MSN .NET, personal subscription services, Microsoft Office .NET, Microsoft Visual Studio .NET, and Microsoft bCentral™ for .NET.

  • Third-party .NET services
    A vast range of partners and developers will have the opportunity to produce corporate and vertical services built on the .NET platform.

 What is the .NET Framework?

The Microsoft .NET Framework is a platform for building, deploying, and running XML Web services and applications. It provides a highly productive, standards-based, multilanguage environment for integrating existing investments with next-generation applications and services as well as the agility to solve the challenges of deployment and operation of Internet-scale applications. The .NET Framework consists of three main parts: the common language runtime, a hierarchical set of unified class libraries, and a component-based version of Active Server Pages called ASP.NET. (Please read the section on ASP.NET for more information.)

Does the .NET Framework only apply to people building Web sites?

The .NET Framework enables the creation of great Web applications. However, the .NET Framework also enables you to build the same applications you build today. If you write Windows-based software (using ATL/COM, MFC, Microsoft Visual Basic, or even standard Microsoft Win32® APIs), .NET offers many advantages to the way you currently build applications. If you develop Web sites, the .NET Framework has a lot to interest you—starting with ASP.NET.

How can I get the .NET Framework Beta?

You can download the .NET Framework from the Web at or order both Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Framework online for a minimal charge. The cost for the beta will cover materials and shipping. For ordering information, please go to

What are the minimum system requirements for .NET Framework Beta 2?

The hardware requirements for this beta release will be higher, and its performance may be lower than the final.NET Framework release. The Beta 2 version of the.NET Framework has been tested on Windows 2000 (Server and Professional), Windows NT 4.0 (Server and Workstation), Windows Millennium Edition, Windows 98, Windows XP Professional, and Windows .NET Server. Web application development and some server-side components require Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000. We recommend the following hardware configurations:


  • Processor: Intel Pentium processor or equivalent, running at 90 megahertz (MHz) or higher

  • RAM: 32 megabytes (MB); 96 MB or higher recommended

  • Video: 800x600, 256 colors


  • Processor: Intel Pentium class 133 MHz or higher

  • RAM: 128 MB (256 MB or higher recommended)

  • Hard disk space required to install: 360 MB

  • Hard disk space required: 210 MB

  • Additional space required to install and compile all samples: 300 MB

  • Video: 800 x 600 resolution monitor with 256 colors

What are the major changes to the .NET Framework between Beta 1 and Beta 2 versions?

    Top Eight Changes to the .NET Framework



Windows 95 Support Discontinued

With most customers running Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows NT 4.0, and Windows 2000, it made sense to concentrate development and test resources on these platforms to ensure the reliability customers demand from Microsoft development tools.

Namespace Changes

After extensive usability studies, Microsoft has tuned the namespaces to be more intuitive, therefore increasing developer productivity. For a complete list of all namespace changes, see APIchangesbeta1tobeta2.htm within the .NET Framework SDK.

Support for XML Schema Document (XSD)

W3C is endorsing XML Schema as a replacement for DTDs, and the .NET Framework enables developers to use this system of managing XML documents.

ASP.NET Controls

All ASP.NET controls now supply validation functionality.

Managed Win32 Classes Removed

The .NET Framework unified classes provide developers with all the functionality needed to write XML Web services and applications, in an easier, intuitive, hierarchical way. If there is a need to call into unmanaged DLLs, this too is fully supported through the PInvoke() function.

Runtime Security Enhancements

Policy and Permission Enhancements

In the new policy level for enterprise policy administration, execution permission checking is now ON by default.

Configuration and Administration Features

There is a new XML schema for security policy configuration. GUI administration tool contains security administration support (MSCORCFG.exe). Tools contain enterprise policy deployment support.

Isolated Storage

The .NET Framework now supports a Roaming Store.

Advances in Cryptography

  • Support for the Rijndael/AES block cipher and the SHA256, SHA384, and SHA512 hash algorithms.

  • New streaming model for wrapping cryptographic transforms (for example, symmetric block ciphers) around any Stream class.

  • Support for RFC 3075 XML Digital Signatures.

Granular Resource Protection

Permissions now enable a more granular protection of a number of resources including SQL Server drivers, OLEDB providers, the event log, perf counters, Active Directory™, printing, MSMQ, and services.

Windows Forms

The .NET Framework enables code access security so that a very rich subset of the Windows Forms functionality can be used by semi-trusted code.

ASP.NET Security Enhancements

Support for Code Access Security

Administrators can assign permissions to Web applications and services at the application level.

Configuration for Forms Authentication

Forms authentication now supports configuration files for reading cookie values and encryption keys for a given application.

Control over Process Identity

ASP.NET enables administrators to dynamically set the identity under which the application runs.

ASP.NET Not Supported on Windows NT 4.0

The focus of testing and development for Windows 2000 and beyond will ensure the best possible reliability (and performance) going forward

Configuration and Administration Tools

New GUI administration tools use XML schemas for setting deployment policies and other administration configuration settings, particularly in areas of security.

These tools Include:

  • .NET Framework Configuration (Mscorcfg.msc)

  • .NET Framework Configuration Wizard (Mscorcfg.exe)

For a complete list of all of the changes from Beta 1 to Beta 2 of the .NET Framework, see APIchangesbeta1tobeta2.htm in the .NET Framework SDK.

Where is Visual InterDev?

The Microsoft Visual InterDev® Web development system has been included in the Visual Studio .NET integrated development environment (IDE). All languages will have access to the market-leading features of the current Visual InterDev product.

When will the final version of the .NET Framework be available?

Firm dates have not yet been set for final availability. With all Microsoft products, customers let us know when a product is ready to release—the .NET Framework is no exception. Check back at for more information.

Can my Visual Basic 6.0-based applications be upgraded to Visual Basic .NET?

To take full advantage of the new language constructs in Visual Basic .NET, an upgrade tool is included that automatically upgrades Visual Basic 6.0 projects when they are opened in Visual Basic .NET. The Upgrade Wizard will modify the language for syntax changes and will convert Visual Basic 6.0 forms to Windows Forms. In addition, to help developers upgrade their Visual Basic 6.0 projects, the Upgrade Wizard generates a report, which alerts developers to manual changes that need to be made in their code. Because these comments are displayed as "TO DO" tasks in the new Task List window, developers can easily navigate to the code statement simply by double-clicking the task.

How does Microsoft Visual C++ support .NET?

Microsoft Visual C++ can produce code for the .NET platform. In addition, Microsoft has extensively improved ATL, MFC and the compiler introduced ATL Server for producing native code XML Web services.

Where can I learn more about Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and how to build applications with it?

You can get more information from Additionally, MSDN will be carrying a number of articles and white papers on .NET. Finally there are the newsgroups on MSNEWS.MICROSOFT.COM.

How does .NET support my existing COM-based and COM+-based components?

The .NET Framework enables developers to call existing COM and COM+ components, and it also enables .NET components to be exposed to COM and COM+ developers. A considerable amount of COM+ 1.0 plumbing has been simplified in the .NET Framework. Additionally, .NET Framework components can be added to a COM+ application, where they can take advantage of the automatic Component Services—for example, Transactions, ObjectPool, Queued Components, Events, and so on—making building serviced components even easier.

Will there be a cross-platform version of the runtime?

There are currently no plans to take the full .NET Framework to non-Windows platforms. However, there is a version of the .NET Framework called the .NET Compact Framework, which enables the fundamental architecture of the .NET Framework to be leveraged on small devices, such as mobile phones and digital TVs. The .NET Compact Framework is programming language-, hardware-, and operating system-independent.

How do I secure my XML Web services?

Since XML Web services look and act externally like Web pages (using HTTP requests and responding with text that happens to be well-formed XML), they are protected in much the same way that Web sites are protected: through standard Web server authentication mechanisms and through the use of HTTPS and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to protect the data on the network (or IPSec and/or firewalls to further restrict access to client machines of known IP addresses).

Can I use the Win32 APIs from a .NET Framework program?

Yes. Using P/Invoke, .NET Framework-based applications can access native code libraries through static DLL entry points.

What programming languages will the .NET Framework support?

The .NET Framework is language-neutral; virtually any language can target the .NET Framework. Currently, you can build .NET programs in a number of languages, including C++, Visual Basic .NET, JScript, and Microsoft's newest language—C#. A large number of third-party languages will also be available for building .NET Framework applications. These languages include COBOL, Eiffel, Perl, Python, Smalltalk, and others. For a complete list please, see

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