We outline the general features of the conventional mean–field theory for the description of Bose–Einstein condensates at near zero temperatures. This approach, based on a phenomenological model, appears to give excellent agreement with experimental data. We argue, however, that such an approach is not rigorous and cannot contain the full effect of collisional dynamics due to the presence of the mean–field. We thus discuss an alternative microscopic approach and explain, within our new formalism, the physical origin of these effects. Furthermore, we discuss the potential formulation of a consistent finite–temperature mean–field theory, which we claim necessitates an analysis beyond the conventional treatment.