The Microsoft .NET Framework



Some of the computer languages used today have been around for a while and might not have been updated, considering that even 10 years is a long time in the computer world. To still make it possible for programmers to create up-to-date programs, Microsoft was developing its own libraries and programming concepts.

COM to Help

If you create two programs with each in a different language, they cannot communicate. For example, an object created in one language cannot be used in the other language. In the beginning, this was not a big issue but as programs were developed by the thousands and hundreds of thousands, it was not unusual for a company to want to use different languages to create commercial programs. For example, suppose you have a company called Corel, you may want to publish a software product named CorelDraw and another product named WordPerfect. At a later time, you may even acquire another product named Paint Shop Pro, from another company (named Jasc). As you use different programmers with different backgrounds, you may end up with programmers of different languages.

If you want the interfaces of your products to look the same, for example, you may want the menus and toolbars of these products to look the same, instead of asking each department to develop an object that looks the same, you can ask one department A to create the object, such as a toolbar, using the language of its choice, then make that object available to another department B so they can integrate that object in their product.

The problem that may arise is that, in order to use the object developed by department A using one language, the programmers of department B may have to learn the language that those A programmers were using. This can cost time and money to the company.

To make it possible to create an object in one language or programming environment to be used in another language or even programming environment, Microsoft developed Microsoft Component Object Model, also called Microsoft COM, or simply COM. COM itself is three technologies in one family: ActiveX controls, COM+, and DCOM.

The objects used in Microsoft Windows are available through libraries called DLLs and a DLL is primarily a computer file. As these files were developed by the thousands, it was not unusual to have library conflicts from different programs installed in the same computer. The problem with this issue was nicknamed DLL Hell.


Although COM was meant to solve many problems, it brought its own set of issues. For example, COM was neither easy to learn nor easy to implement. Another problem with COM was that is was developed for Microsoft Windows to solve the operating systemís issues of the company.

With the fast spread, good availability, and high usefulness of the Internet, Microsoft re-examined the limitations that programming languages like C/C++, Microsoft Visual Studio <= 6 on one end, and the new developments such as web development and XML on the other end. The conclusion was to create a new library, almost from scratch, but by enhancing existing languages. At the same time, Microsoft became more open to the outside world. For example, Microsoft created a new language named C# and submitted its standards for public approval so the language could be used outside of Microsoft Windows.


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