Microsoft Counting on Developers to Follow .Net to the Cloud
Among the many questions developers have is if Microsoft will leave some .NET developers behind as it evolves the framework, as it has done with other big developer moves in the past. Microsoft's Schmelzer said he does not think the same thing will happen in this case. He said he believes that Microsoft needs to do a better job of articulating that "when we think about .NET 2015, there really are sort of two flavors of that," he said. First, there is what Microsoft refers to as the full framework version of .Net, Schmelzer said. That's the version that everybody knows and works with today. It's a single framework that encompasses both client and server scenarios off a common runtime and just-in-time [JIT] compiler.Roslyn is the code name for the .NET Compiler Platform, which provides open-source C# and Visual Basic compilers with rich code analysis APIs. It is essentially a remake of the .NET compilers aimed at taking developers to the cloud. Microsoft expects that most current .NET developers will continue working with that updated full framework, "especially client applications, whether it would be WinForms or WPF [Windows Presentation Foundation], they would stay there," Schmelzer said. "But also other apps will stay on that style of the framework for a while." However, the core runtime and the ASP.NET 5 that runs on top of it are mostly targeting new development," Schmelzer said. "From a Web scenario, we are focusing on the modern Web framework—so the MVC framework, SignalR, those kinds of technologies," he said. Web Forms will not be part of that initial release. "That's one we will wait to see what the community response [is], and we'll wait to hear back from the developer base," Schmelzer said. If Microsoft gets a lot of feedback that people see the need to migrate their Web Forms applications, then the company will take a look at that, he said. "But the initial focus is on the new modern style of applications—thinking about the cloud, thinking about emerging design patterns like micro services and things like that, where you're looking at smaller, loosely coupled services" that are linked together to create an application, Schmelzer said. But Microsoft continues "to invest in both aspects of it. My team invests in both the full framework—the 4.6 and beyond—as well as the core version of the stack." For his part, Hollis said he does not think any decisions as to whether to leave a segment of developers behind have been made yet. "I think it depends on how much Microsoft is worried about the 'dark matter' developers—developers who just do 9-to-5 jobs and don't go to conferences or fool with open source or whatever—moving to the cloud," he said. "The broad-base surveys still have around 35 to 40 percent of Microsoft ecosystem developers using some flavor of Visual Basic, but if Microsoft believes they are laggards who won't move to the cloud for another five or 10 years, Microsoft might decide they are not worth the trouble and leave them behind."
Microsoft will release the 4.6 version of that framework as part of .NET 2015, Schmelzer said. The focus of this release is mainly on stability and performance improvements, Schmelzer noted. This will not only get the new JIT; the Roslyn compilers will be available, as well, he noted.