It's more complete, more ready and more widely deployed than any of its Web services framework competitors. There is no J2EE application server product, or "platform family" that comes even close to the breadth of .net's usable "developers desktop" functionality.
Even worse - there are more real Web services applications in production built on .net than on any alternative platform. The .net platform is ahead in tooling, middleware services, integration services and process management services.
Naturally, I don't expect you to take my word for it. So here's a test. Phone up Microsoft and ask for .net. They'll ship it to you.
If you splash out on MSDN you'll get the OS, tools, database, the process engine and a host of other goodies (including about a gig of searchable documentation and examples) in one box. You'll also get a handful of DVDs within 72 hours.
Now phone a competitor. Go on - I dare you!
You'll find that only one vendor, IBM, comes even close.
There, I've said it. I'm not happy with this situation. While I don't subscribe to the rather sad "Microsoft is bad, anything else is good" mantra of some, I do believe that users deserve and need a choice.
Suppliers claiming to be ahead of .net are either deceiving you or deceiving themselves.
The challenge for Microsoft is to maintain the uphill "mindshare" battle like it did back in 2000 when COM+ was released. At the time, COM+ offered the richest, most integrated suite of middleware services ever seen, but no one was willing to believe Microsoft.
The same is true with .net today. Microsoft "brand" issues mean that when a Java-supporting CEO gets up on stage and claims (falsely, of course) that "We're way ahead of Dot-Net", a round of applause is guaranteed.
Microsoft's challenge is to take the hard road of brand rebuilding, to chip away at the fallacious objections one by one, until the time when rational comparison becomes politically acceptable again.
The challenge for suppliers of alternative technologies is to face up to cold, hard reality - stop bleating about Microsoft and get on with the job of delivering technology, not talk.
The sooner this process begins the better it will be for all of us, since Microsoft is already making good progress on its "to-do" list.
What's your view?
Does Microsoft offer the best Web services and strategy with .net? Let us know with an e-mail >> CW360.com reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.
Gary Barnett is principal analyst at Ovum.
Ovum Software Evaluation Service (OSES)