Microsoft started development on the .NET Framework in the late 1990s, originally under the name of "Next Generation Windows Services" (NGWS).
So why did Microsoft choose the name .NET?
This is a bit of mystery, but the below answers are the best I've come across so far...
1) .NET enabled Microsoft's marketing people to emphasise the "Network"-ing aspect of its technologies, and was also a reaction to the marketing blitz by Sun Microsystems at the time, whose theme was "The network is the computer". The term "Dot Com" was synonymous with the Internet at the time, and "Dot Net" was a play on that term.
I don't think it is a bad name at all, the problem was that Microsoft initially named so many products with the ".NET" nomenclature like ".NET My Services" and ".NET Enterprise Servers", where the latter had nothing to do with the Internet. It caused so much confusion. Only later did Microsoft correct itself by limiting the .NET name to technologies related to the managed software framework.
- Stanley Siu
2) I was a dev at Microsoft at the time, and I have no idea whose ass the name .NET was pulled from. Anyone I talked to thought it was a lousy name for all the reasons already enumerated. At least it's pronounceable, unlike NGWS.
- George V. Reilly
3) The early marketing thrust of .NET was web services. .NET was supposed to make it easy both to write and consume web services. In particular, it was supposed to make it easier to call the web services that Microsoft was going to provide, and that everyone would then use: the ".NET My Services".
Of course, that fell apart very quickly, but the name remained. It was at least better than "COM++" or "ActiveXX".
- John Saunders
4) I was Summer intern at Microsoft in 2001 and back then the interns went to Bill Gates's house for a bbq near the end of the Summer. One of the interns asked "what other names did you think of before coming up with .NET?"
To the best of my memory, Bill's answer was something like:
"I didn't actually like the name .NET. It makes people wonder if we are finally just starting to learn about the Internet. Sadly, the other proposed name was even worse. Our mission statement at the time was 'work Anywhere, Anytime, on Any device,' so the proposal was AAAWare."
Related Anecdote - the naming of Microsoft's C# programming language
In January 1999, Anders Hejlsberg formed a team to build a new language at the time called Cool, which stood for "C-like Object Oriented Language". Microsoft had considered keeping the name "Cool" as the final name of the language, but chose not to do so for trademark reasons, and came up with C# instead. Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C_Sharp_%28programming_language%29#History
So instead of being a C#.NET developer, you might have been known as a Cool AAAWare developer!
Until this blog post was published, a Q&A on this topic was available here on StackOverflow, which is still the top Google result for: why was .net called .net.
The question was deemed to be offtopic for StackOverflow, and was recently deleted, even though it had been visible (as 'Closed') for about three years or so. Just before it was deleted, I had edited the accepted answer (by Stanley Siu) to make some grammatical corrections. Then, briefly after my edit was accepted by a moderator, the whole question was deleted. So I thought it would be worthy of this brief blog post here, in case someone else wants to find out the answer, as I did ;-).
UPDATE (7-May-2012): somehow (maybe due to a bit of attention from this post?), the original question on StackOverflow has been un-deleted and is once again available at its original location here. Thanks SO moderators!
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