Looking for a general book on the Microsoft architecture.

Hello, I have a strange question. I'm looking for a very general book on the whole Microsoft (and maybe non-Microsoft ) programming environment.I would like to have a big picture of all the technologies available today.The book could cover topics like the following:

-What is COM, OLE, ActiveX, and differences between them
-What is VBScript, VBA and Visual Basic and differences between them.
-Evolution of Visual Basic, evolution of Visual C,etc...
-The .NET framework, what it its, what are it's features,etc...
-What is ASP
-What is SQL
-The windows API, what it is, it's features,etc..

I'm not interested in detailed information on anything, like "how to use the if..then statement" but just a general description of each technology, it's features, etc...I know I could look all those doubts individually using Wikipedia, but it would be great to have a structured mental map in my head of the I&T technologies and products available today, so if for example I'd say: "I want to program an extremely portable application" , well then I
would know that maybe Java was the answer.

I always have the feeling there's a lot of specific documentation for individual programming languages, but I've never found a big general description of the available languages and tools that would give me "the big picture". For example, I've never programmed a webpage in my life (only stand-alone applications) but if I wanted to start tomorrow, it would be nice to have a general idea of what is XML,HTML,etc... and which would be more suitable depending on a set of requirements, so I could then go to a shop and buy "The XML Bible" or "Teach yourself PHP in 24 hours" and so on. Sadly, I imagine this book only exists in my head. Thanks to all for any help you can give me.

PS: English is not my native language, so please excuse any mistakes in my writing.


  • Everything is on MSDN, highly detailed...
  • Microsoft ASP.NET and AJAX: Architecting Applications for the Enterprise
    Microsoft ASP.NET and AJAX: Architecting Web Applications

    you'll benefit a lot from them!
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