Hang on, this wasn't supposed to happen. Apple's Unix-based OS X could wind up being the most .NET-friendly environment outside Redmond.
At MacWorldExpo in New York, Halcyon Software showed off the .NET developer environment running on OS X, as part of its Java Dot Netproject. Halcyon is a veteran of this kind of thing: having ported Microsoft technology, including Active Server Pages, to various platforms and of bridging the distinct object continents with a CORBA to EJB connector.
There are three open source projects to create an open and portable .NET development environment underway: Ximian's Mono project, DotGNU and the oldest, Portable.NET. And each, being software libre, could find its way on to the PowerPC Mac Linuxes too.
Halcyon's Java Dot Net isn't directly comparable to these three, however, but it gets there via a different route. Instead of running the common runtime, compiler and libraries natively, Halcyon's software converts the Microsoft Intermediate Language (MIL) to Java source binaries. The software house wants its ASP customers to be able to run on OS X as a first stage, and promises a full .NET implantation for some time next year.
Apple itself isn't likely to return to the enterprise software infrastructure business, which it left when OpenDoc was canned four years ago, although with WebObjects it retains a lucrative and highly-regarded foothold.
Apple has more pressing concerns than investing new money in sending out armies of men in dull suits to point at PowerPoint slides of object frameworks: it's got to persuade its core education and publishing to change platforms. Or, as the late John Lee Hooker put it, "I've got enough trouble at home - I don't want to go to Vietnam." ®