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Discusses the emergence of Microsoft's .NET platform for XML based Web services. .NET has a central role in Microsoft's strategy to integrate the Internet, Web services, building block services, numerous tools for developers, and many other features. .NET has benefited from a several-billion-dollar investment in research. Microsoft's competitors haven't missed the message, as indicated by several recent announcements such as Sun's Open Net Environment. No one in this industry can be guaranteed to hold the lead for long, but Microsoft has the potential to stage a major coup. Whatever happens, .NET will affect nearly everyone involved in any kind of enterprise or Web development.