The .NET Framework created by Microsoft is a software development platform focused on rapid application development (RAD), platform independence and network transparency. .NET is Microsoft's strategic initiative for server and desktop development for the next decade. According to Microsoft, .NET includes many technologies that are designed to facilitate rapid development of Internet and intranet applications.
.NET has brought new functionalities and tools to the application programming interface (API). These innovations allow programmers to develop applications for both Windows and the web as well as components and services (web services). .NET provides a new reflective, object-oriented API. .NET is designed to be sufficiently generic that many different high-level languages can be compiled. The .NET framework is a competing product to Sun's Java and J2EE technology and it shares many concepts with it. There is a collection of development tools specifically developed for use with the .NET platform. The principal example is Visual Studio .NET, an integrated development environment from Microsoft.