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The .Net Framework
is the programming model underlying .NET for developing, deploying, and running Web services and applications.
Web services are units of code that allow programs written in different programming languages and on different platforms to communicate and share data through standard Internet protocols such as, XML, SOAP, Web Services Description Language (WSDL), and Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI).
The common language runtime and class libraries are at the center of the .NET Framework. The common language runtime manages memory, security, and language integration. It also and helps simplify code development and application deployment while improving application reliability. The bulk of this work is handled transparently, simplifying the work of IT administrators. In addition, features of the common language runtime - strong type naming, cross-language exception handling, lifetime management, and dynamic binding - dramatically reduce the amount of code a developer must write.
Class libraries supply the resources needed to build applications with XML support, networking, and data-access features. Because the classes are unified, developers can build both Microsoft Windows®-based and Web-based applications, enhancing their productivity and code reuse in the process.
Interoperability and Management
One of the most significant advantages of the .NET Framework is its level of interoperability with other languages, applications, and systems. At the heart of .NET is the ability to help businesses integrate and manage their Web-based solutions through Web services, which are quickly becoming an industry standard.
.NET enables modern software applications to communicate through standard Internet protocols such as XML and SOAP, creating a channel through which internal and remote systems can easily interact. Applications hosted in-house - in addition to external systems - can be "stitched together," allowing businesses to quickly meet their unique business needs through specialized yet economical solutions.
The common language runtime comes into play by allowing individual components of specific applications within a company to communicate. Through its standard set of types - self-describing type information (meta data) and common execution environment - the common language runtime integrates all programming languages and allows objects created in one language to be read with equal weight by code written in a different language. For example, a new scheduling function written in COBOL can be used with an existing human resources application that was written in Microsoft Visual Basic® .NET.
The advantages of multiple language support are obvious. Not only does it improve productivity by giving developers the choice to use the programming language that's best suited to the job, it decreases time to market by increasing code reuse through cross-language inheritance.
Four Ways .NET Can Improve Your Business (http://www.microsoft.com/net/business/ways.asp)