As time went by, Microsoft seemed to confuse company watchers — and, more
importantly, its customers — even more as officials attempted to clarify what
.Net was and why it mattered. Further confounding matters, Microsoft's marketing
minions began attaching the .Net name to just about every next-gen Microsoft
product. (What was Windows.Net? Or Office.Net?)
I was reading this and just had to post a link because it reminded me of major problems my company had because of .NET. My small web development company was pushing (through me) Microsoft and through my partner Java. The DotNet bust hit us and then Microsoft released .NET. For the first 2 years the net impact of .NET was to utterly confuse the entire market place, to make it harder to sell things, harder to find staff, and harder to make a living.
Perhaps the failure of Microsoft to see how a background technology like .NET should be rolled out to the nerds WITHOUT confusing buyers and users will be marked as a sign of key problems with the entire market focus. Any technology sales person worth their salt will tell you the need to keep marketing messages clear without cluttering it with technology, but Microsoft seemed to clearly miss the boat on this one. These failures would be repeated via MSN and Vista.
Microsoft has to prove it still can do what it was always best at: provide solutions that people can understand and use.