TechEd 2001 throws .NET to developers or .NET Release Date Announced (way to go VSLive! SanFran 02') for a little nostalgia). Nowadays it seems the dirty word of web technology is to even mention 'web forms' to be used typically in favor of MVC. This however is a misnomer because web forms are still a good tool in the proverbial toolbox of engineering technologies. I have done both and they both have their place. Personally as an architect I prefer MVC because of it's architecture compared to the event driven web forms, but honestly I like the RAD aspect of server controls. Yes I said it, the UI part in web forms is a bit easier than working with HTML helpers in MVC. Not that I would pick a web forms project simply because of that, but I still like it. It's easy, and easy is good.
I actually got in a mild argument on a Stack Overflow chat about 6 months ago as I was being discounted as a 'seasoned professional' because I had only done MVC for the last few years. It didn't take long for other 'seasoned professionals' to back me up and explain to this newb to pipe down a bit. Web forms have a deep history in the 10+ year history of .NET.
I'm not writing here about the differences (I've done that previously: ASP.NET Web Forms vs. ASP.NET MVC) but rather shed light to those newer to the industry of why web forms played such a crucial piece in the success of .NET. If you are a new developer to the industry (< 5 years experience) you may only know MVC and be one in the camp bashing web forms. Please take note that ASP.NET's version of MVC may have never existed if web forms didn't exist with their programming style to bridge the gap to .NET years ago.
I remember back in the early 2000's there was stiff competition from Java, Perl, PHP, and the like as prominent technologies to win over devs off the Microsoft languages and IDEs from the soon to be retired Visual Studio 6.0. Now MVC (Model-View-Controller) is an old architecture concept that dates back to the 70's and 80's from Smalltalk but arguably is a tad more complex to learn than the RAD drag-and-drop event based programming model. Imagine if there were no web forms when VS.NET appeared in late 2001 and they introduced ASP.NET MVC only. Sure there would be some hardcore devs that would have like it, but the majority of the millions of VB6 developers would have taken 1 look at that and said, "No thank you". Web forms and their almost identical to VB6 style of programming (other than being stateless as probably the biggest difference) was absolutely key in my opinion to the success and adoption of VS.NET and .NET in general.