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From my understanding, the idea behind the .NET is pretty much the same as the Java Virtual Machine running on different platform, which make the Java programming language cross-platform.
Microsoft is trying to push the idea of .NET framework, which is based on so called Common Language Running(CLR). The base idea behind the CLR is compiling the .NET compliant language like C++, VB, Java, ASP.NET, C#. VB.NET to a so called IL( intermedia language ). The .NET platform will run the IL just as Java Servlet running on the Java VM. such that make the program CPU independant.
Since the .NET is still in its Beta version, no Unix or Linux.NET available yet at this moment but I will assume it will be available sooner or later.
Just like the introduction of Visual C++ was primary based on the MS window platform, the introduction of C# was mainly aimed at the .NET platform but you don't need to limit you language skill to C#. Just like we can use VB to do the Window programming instead of VC++ in most of the case.
It is just some rough introduction of what is going on with .NET. For those whose have interest, you have to study on your own. I myself am a beginner as well.
Happy learning Guys.
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