Happy New Year 2004!

Happy New Year 2004!

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And so another year begins. The first week of January is of course the traditional time for all kinds of rogue commentators to produce a list of predictions for the coming twelve months, and this year has been no exception. For developers using the Microsoft platform and tool chain, 2004 represents the 3rd year of commercial availability of .NET and the 6th year of development. Over the last couple of years, we've seen the .NET Framework go from nowhere to become a mature mainstream development choice, with some surveys now showing it as the most popular development platform ahead of even J2EE.

This year is in some ways the most critical year for its adoption, however: there are three significant hurdles that I believe we need to address in particular:

  1. Reducing the learning curve for those new to the .NET world, by providing better help, more powerful wizards and tools and supporting the complete software development lifecycle.
  2. Making it easier for existing applications (particularly those written in ASP and Visual Basic "Classic") to be migrated across to the .NET world;
  3. Providing tools and guidance to IT Professionals to help them deploy and manage the .NET Framework and associated applications;

I'll be trying to do my bit to improve our capabilities in these areas; we've got some events coming up in the UK where we'll deal with some of these issues, and I'll post more information and blog entries in these areas as appropriate. In particular, I'm delivering a three session marathon at the Developer & IT Pro Days conference in Belgium next month on administering and deploying .NET Framework applications - I'll be posting some of the session materials here immediately afterwards.

Some of the releases I'm looking forward to this year include (in roughly chronological order):

  • Virtual Server 2004: Finally, a way for me to get full value from an MSDN Universal subscription by running each of the major pieces of software in partitioned and isolated environments with proper "always-on" server management.
  • Mono 1.0: Not even remotely a Microsoft-supported project, but I'm still in awe of what they've been able to accomplish in such a short space of time.
  • Windows "Longhorn" Beta 1: So much is still in flux in the current (PDC) build that it's primarily a technology preview rather than a serious development environment. Beta 1 should get us a lot further down the road though.
  • Tablet PC 2004: I've had mixed experiences with my Tablet PC, and indeed many people have criticised the first generation devices, but I think the Tablet PC team and the hardware manufacturers themselves should be praised for their determination in a risky and difficult market where many have previously tried and failed. This revised version of the software based on the Windows XP Service Pack 2 code base should greatly improve performance and usability.
  • Lord of the Rings III Extended DVD Edition: we went to the costume and set exhibition in London over Christmas before watching the film - a great day!
  • SQL Server "Yukon": Adding the ability to run managed code within the database, as described elsewhere in this blog.
  • Visual Studio "Whidbey": The crucial third version where Microsoft "gets it right" according to traditional folklore :-)

Best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year!

  • Note that Whidbey and Yukon are more or less inseperable now because they both use the same version of the .NET Framework. While I feel that the CLR-in-Yukon bits are curcial, the XML bits are every bit as important. Great post!
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