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This paper defines a precise conceptual model of a software platform and the relationship that exists between platforms and software applications that use them. One of the key features of this model is that it allows formal verification of deployment specifications. The paper also describes how the proposed conceptual model can be represented directly using some of the new modeling features of the industry-standard UML 2.0 language. Finally, we briefly describe how this model can be used to support platform-independent design while still accounting for the potentially fundamental impact that platform characteristics can have on key design decisions.