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ASP.NET and Smart Clients

Posted by pbrittan on August 12, 2003 at 6:54 AM PDT

Microsoft makes money from Windows desktops, not from browsers

In response to the the latest installment of my Java vs. .Net series, a number of you responded with a focus on ASP.NET. ASP.NET is Microsoft's way of delivering browser-based DHTML applications.

Yes, ASP.NET is an important part of .NET, but I actually do not think that Microsoft is interested in promoting browser-based DHTML clients very heavily. Strategically, they need to continue to lock in Windows on the desktop, and fat clients are the strongest way to do that.

I believe that Microsoft's main strategic thrust will be around "Smart Clients". Smart Clients are .NET fat clients that rely on Web Services (served up by Windows Servers) and that can be trickeled to the client machine byte-by-byte (by Windows Servers), to make installation much more seamless to the end user. But they are still locally-installed Win32 applications.

Usability will be a primary driver for Microsoft to promote Smart Clients. Usability doesn't just mean the quality of the GUI or the richness of the controls (although those are very important). It also includes the ability to interact with other applications on the desktop (a big problem for browser-based apps) to provide an overall superior user experience (anyone remember the "Are you experienced?" campaign?).

Here is an excerpt from a newsletter that Microsoft sent around to ISVs this morning:

"ISVs: Get Ready to Deliver Smart Client Applications
The Smart Client Readiness Program for ISVs gives you the software, tools, and technical resources you need to start building smart client applications. If your customers aren't asking for them yet, they will soon see the need for the next generation of anywhere, anytime data access. Enroll in the program today!"

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