Microsoft Partners Begin Playing With .Net 3.0

releasing a blizzard of developer software .Net

Now available for download on Microsoft's Web site, the .Net 3.0 Framework will ship as part of the Vista operating system but can also be deployed on Windows XP. The bundle brings to light a number of years-in-development technologies, including the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Communication Foundation (previously code-named Indigo), Workflow Foundation and CardSpace (formerly InfoCard), a new run at the identity-authentication problem that Passport failed to solve.

While the full impact of Vista will take years to ripple through the industry, some of .Net 3.0's advances win raves from Microsoft partners.

"WPF is one of the best things I've seen from Microsoft in the last 10 years," said Scott Stanfield, CEO of Vertigo Software, a Microsoft Gold partner in Point Richmond, Calif. "Any client development we do from now on, we're doing with WPF. I think a lot of the power of Vista will come through the graphics subsystem."

A handful of applications built atop .Net 3.0 have gone live, including Times Reader, which enables electronic browsing of the New York Times in a format that mimics print. Scott Guthrie, general manager of Microsoft's developer division, cited it as an example of the functionality the new framework unlocks.

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"Everyone that has seen [Times Reader] and played with it is blown away by it," Guthrie said. "We think .Net 3.0 is going to take customer experiences to the next level."

Application compatibility is a concern for developers eyeing the major changes that Vista brings, but Microsoft said applications developed for .Net 2.0 will work cleanly on the new version.

".Net 3.0 is a strict superset of 3.0," said Jay Roxe, lead product manager in the company's developer division. "Any .Net 2.0 application will run on Vista."

One application still struggling with Vista compatibility is Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, which will need a patch that will lag Vista's release to be fully operational. Microsoft soon plans to post a list on MSDN that explains how to address Visual Studio/Vista clashes.

"We've enumerated all the scenarios where it doesn't work and what the workaround is," Roxe said. "It turns out to be a moderately sized list."

Microsoft ruffled developers' feathers when it said it wouldn't support older versions of Visual Studio on Vista. However, one early reviewer reported that Virtual PC (VPC) is a workable ad-hoc solution to the problem. Developer Peter van Ooijen, who needs to support projects that have not been upgraded to Visual Studio 2005, posted to the blog that his experiences with running Visual Studio 2003 on Vista via VPC were problem-free.

"Virtualization is making great progress. . . . It is really fast and snappy," Van Ooijen wrote. "Virtual PC 2007 provides an excellent solution to use Visual Studio 2003 under Vista."