The Disappear.Net Campaign

The Disappear.Net Campaign

Mary Jo Foley

After trying for three years to explain what “.Net” is, Microsoft seems to be throwing in the towel.

Redmond’s latest plan seems to be to phase out the .Net brand, while embedding the .Net bits into the next versions of all of the company’s core products.

Even though Microsoft has spent gobs of money, time and effort explaining its .Net strategy, axing the .Net brand just might not be a bad idea.

After all, Microsoft has had nothing but trouble explaining .Net, starting from the time the technology was known code-named “Next Generation Windows Services.” Things didn’t get any clearer when it officially rolled out .Net to press and analysts in the summer of 2000.

As time went by, Microsoft seemed to confuse company watchers — and, more importantly, its customers — even more as officials attempted to clarify what .Net was and why it mattered. Further confounding matters, Microsoft’s marketing minions began attaching the .Net name to just about every next-gen Microsoft product. (What was Windows.Net? Or Office.Net?)

Read What We Thought .Net Was Before Its Launch

And Then What We Thought After the Rollout

We Weren’t the Only Ones Confused: Gates Admits .Net Missteps

Starting in January of this year, with its decision to pull .Net from the name of Windows Server 2003, Microsoft began to stop the .Net madness. And now, the .Net gravy train seems to be heading slowly but surely in reverse.

MapPoint .Net, Microsoft’s first XML Web service is now called just MapPoint. The group of back-end servers formerly (and confusingly) labeled as the “.Net Enterprise Server” family is now simply called Microsoft Windows Server System products.

Read More on the .Net Naming Police Crackdown

Just last year, Microsoft was crowing that it built its MS CRM product to be .Net-enabled from the get-go. But at its Convergence customer/partner conference in Orlando last month, Microsoft officials admitted the company has decided against highlighting .Net when positioning and selling MS CRM.

At the moment, the one place Microsoft doesn’t seem to be shying away from the .Net moniker is on the developer tools side. There, officials still talk about Visual Studio .Net, the .Net Framework and the like.

But there’s rumor that even the dev tools folks have gotten the official word to reduce their .Net dependency. One source tells us even Visual Studio .Net and the sundry .Net languages (C#.Net, Visual Basic.Net, C++.Net, etc.) are due to lose the .Net from their names, too.

To (attempt to) be clear: Microsoft is not killing off .Net. Longhorn, Blackcomb, the “Everett” and “Whidbey” releases of Visual Studio, the “Yukon” version of Exchange Server – in short, all of Microsoft’s core products, will include the .Net Framework bits at their core. But don’t expect Microsoft to be slapping any “.Net Inside” stickers on these boxes when they roll out the door.

What do you think? Are the days of .Net’s marketing excesses over? Is it high time that Microsoft relegated the .Net Framework bits back where they belong — buried deep inside its products?

Write me at mswatch@ziffdavis.com and give me your two cents.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Microsoft Watch.