Here's what I don't get about the Microsoft stack: in the "past", you had WebForms and Http Handlers and Modules. Then it came MVC, ASP.NET Web Pages, ASP.NET, WCF REST and now Web API as well as the core ASP.NET runtime, all suitable to build HTTP services.
You don't have a to be an uber-geek to be able to assimilate these concepts, but with so many "technologies" in the Microsoft stack to build web services with, they are creating a real mess.
Now the web is moving more towards HTTP/Web Services, a consumible service, rather than HTML content.
Why is this important? - You create a service, say, a process or application that will deliver content using some standard format, and you can use this content for any purpose you want, display it on a web page, use it as a payload for a bank application, or use it for rendering content on a mobile device, or all of the above.
Creating web services gives the developer the versatility of using it anywhere they want, in the ancient years (circa 2 years ago), usually these "web services" were coupled within the application itself which ultimately turned the "content" into a web page, if you wanted to "expose", for example, price information for a product, most likely you had to use the original application/web site in order to do so. Nowadays, most likely you call a web api on the remote host and get a payload containing the requested information, you then can display it on your own web page, mobile device and whatnot.
At work, Microsoft is the king, so we drones use Visual Studio & Co. to build apps, lots of existing web services were build as WCF services, and they return strong types objects, usually only consumable by another MS application, yes, you can change this and expose as anything you want, so why not do that from the beginning?. Embrace, Extend?
In Python, for example, exposing a method as a web service is trivial, requiring no .NET wizardy, nonsensical rules or "contracts" and without tying you up to nazi strong-typing that MS developers seem to be unable to live without.
At least in 2014, Open Source has the upper hand at creating consumable web services, wether the industry adopts this or not, is another story, in the meantime, I'll continue doing my part and fighting the man.