Interview question? Sounds like something designed to catch you off guard and induce stress. Or, as you said, something based on the interviewer's ignorance.
the term (trademark, whatever) is .NET, so dot.net is redundant. The origins are cloudy, but here is one possibility:
"Here is the story off the top of my head..but dont quote me on it. Its been a while since I heard the story from Scott....
The story starts off with Scott stuck in Redmond over an XMas holiday a few years ago. Scott was one of your typical web type guys stuck in a VBScript world and classic ASP. I guess he took it upon himself to first list everything
that is wrong with classic ASP, and come up with a solution. I believe that at this time Microsoft really needed an initiative to get into the Enterprise market for the Web and Server Sided development. Now, if you can remember, at that time
XML/XLST was the hottest thing on the web (there was a big jump for getting mobile sites online with WML and stuff like that). So Scott threw ASP and XML together, and you get ASPX, or ASP/XML. And of course we see much more of the declarative
model starting to come into play a part here with that XML markup.
So a while into throwing ideas around and some prototypes the thing evolved into what you saw in some of the early beta's of "ASPX". Back then we got the promise of being able to use any programming language (I think) within a single page itself (think
of different contexts in classic ASP, just use language="fooscript"), and then it changed to the APP, and finally being able to switch languages between the actual compiled assemblies as we see today.
He got a little bit of momentum behind the project and next thing you know its a company wide inititive. It became much more than simple ASP and XML but an entire new framework for building enterprise class solutions. The CLR, C#, and of course
they couldnt leave the VB guys in the past so they decided to have VB.NET the next evolutionary step for those folks, etc.
The whole ".NET" name, (again, IIRC) was a complete marketing decision. Not wanting to position themselves along side of the .COM (boom and complete failure) .NET was the final outcome."