As I get ready to introduce Visual Studio 2005, .NET 2.0 and a raft of other things to our organization (no easy feat), I'm spending more time focusing on the Web Parts Framework that .NET 2.0 has to offer and how it will empower your web developers with things that were done with gobs of coding in the past. Personalization, customization, and all that good stuff that we're used to in SharePoint can now be put in the hands of any ASP.NET developer. It's really powerful stuff and will help get us to a common framwork no matter what the application content is.
Nikhil Kothari, a development lead on the ASP.NET team at Micrsoft, has an excellent post here on his blog about connectiing Web Parts together and provides a nice sample that hooks up a calendar with it's entries. No SharePoint needed (but the 20 .NET framework is). Also check out his article for an Introduction to Web Parts here on MSDN which gets non-SharePoint developers feet wet with what's coming and how this is going to change the way you think (and develop) ASP.NET apps.
As we SharePoint developers know (and those using SharePoint), Web Parts are the cat's meow when it comes to cutomization and personalization so armed with that, you can really empower your web-based application users with powerful capabilities for next to nothing in development.