To use this book, you'll need Visual Basic .NET. In addition, if you want to create Web applications and services, you'll also need a Web server running the Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), as detailed in Chapter 14. IIS can be running on your local machine, and it comes with some Windows versions, such as Windows 2000. (Note that although comes on the Windows 2000 CDs, it may not have been installed on your machine by your computer's manufacturer.)
To work with databases, you'll need to use a data provider, as discussed in Chapter 20. I use SQL Server here, but you can use other providers. (However, note that most database examples that use a connection to a data provider use the pubs example database that comes with SQL Server.) Knowing some SQL will be a good idea to work with data applications. (You'll find an SQL primer in Chapter 20—see "Using Basic SQL" in that chapter.)
Also, now that Visual Basic works with browsers as easily as with Windows itself, knowing HTML becomes an issue. I've written an entire HTML 4.01 reference, htmlref.html, which you'll find on this book's CD, but if that's not enough, take a look at a good book on HTML, such as the Coriolis HTML Black Book.