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Updates To .NET Could Boost Client Performance

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Microsoft plans a set of updates this summer to its .NET 3.5 programming framework meant to simplify creating client software for developers as well as improving client performance, according to the executive in charge.

Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET developer platform, also laid out a partial update to the framework’s client roadmap in a blog post on Tuesday. Planned new and improved capabilities include simplified framework setup for client applications, faster client launches under so-called “cold startup” conditions, and optimization of Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) functions.

“We have put a lot of effort into addressing some of the biggest areas of customer feedback, while also trying to really push the envelope on the capabilities developers have when building Windows applications,” Guthrie’s blog post said.

Guthrie, who was promoted last week from general manager of the .NET Framework to corporate vice president, is well known as one of a small group of senior Microsoft executives who also blogs.

For instance, he revealed roadmap details as well as a new numbering scheme for the company’s cross browser, cross platform streaming media technology – Silverlight 2.0 – in a blog post in late November.

Guthrie did not disclose how the updates will be delivered – whether individually or as a service pack.

Coming this summer is a new setup “bootstrap” framework for .NET designed to enable developers to write client apps that download the minimum number of .NET files needed to let .NET 3.5 client code run on a user’s PC.

“For example, if a user already has .NET 2.0 installed on their machine, setup will be smart enough to automatically download only the upgrade patches necessary to update .NET 2.0 to 3.5 (and not have to re-download the components already provided by .NET 2.0),” Guthrie’s post said. The point is to minimize the download size and installation time for client setup programs.

Additionally, an update planned for .NET’s Common Language Runtime, or CLR, will aim to decrease disk accesses and improve cold startup speeds for .NET 2.0, 3.0, and 3.5 applications, when needed support code is not already in memory. The company hopes the update will yield cold startup speed improvements of between 25 and 40 percent.

“Applications do not need to change any code, nor be recompiled, in order to take advantage of these improvements so the benefits are automatic,” Guthrie said.

The company also plans a summer update to WPF, the graphical subsystem underlying .NET 3.0 and later, meant to improve its performance. The changes include adding hardware acceleration for some visual effects, such as drop shadow and blur bitmaps, which are currently rendered in software – thus speeding up performance.

Media and video rendering will also perform much faster in the update. Again, no code changes will be necessary to take advantage of most of the new features, according to Guthrie. Later in the year, Microsoft also plans to release several new WPF programming controls, including DataGrid, Ribbon, and Calendar/DatePicker controls.

Finally, Visual Studio 2008, which was just released earlier this month, will also be getting an update – although Guthrie gave no timeframe for the update’s release. On the list of changes coming in that update are additional features in VS 2008’s WPF designer, including “event tab support within the property grid for control events, [and] toolbox support within source mode.”

“All of these improvements build on top of VS [Visual Studio] 2008 and .NET 3.5, and will make .NET client development even better going forward,” Guthrie added.

This article was first published on

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