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8/11/2008
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Microsoft Upgrades .NET Framework, Visual Studio

Microsoft product unit manager Shanku Niyogi said in an interview that developers will see a "significant increase" in the scalability of .Net applications written for both client and server.

Service pack releases for the .Net Framework and Visual Studio aren't always so substantial, but Microsoft claims significant improved performance to go along with a long list of new features in .Net Framework 3.5 SP1 and Visual Studio 2008 SP1, released Monday.

Microsoft product unit manager Shanku Niyogi said in an interview that developers will see a "significant increase" in the scalability of .Net applications written for both client and server. On the server side, improvements in the Windows Communication Foundation allow servers to host applications that are 10 to 20 times larger than they were in the past via new support for asynchronous Web services.

On the client side, the new Client Profile is a much smaller version of the .Net Framework -- 26.5 MB to the whole framework's 197 MB -- that specifically targets desktop .Net apps. It used to be that .Net installations required multiple reboots and were especially painful if tied to the installation of a .Net app. However, developers can now leverage the Client Profile to make it much easier for users who don't already have the full .Net Framework installed on their PCs to install .Net applications. Those consumers won't have to download a full version of the framework and won't be subjected to multiple reboots. Apps will load much more quickly as well because of the ability to preload code commonly found in .Net application load cycles. Microsoft estimates the client profile will improve application load times by up to 45% and will also decrease download and installation times for apps.

Niyogi said that beyond performance, the most important elements of these service packs are aimed at making data-driven applications easier to build and focusing on "cleaner architectural patterns." For example, Visual Studio 2008 SP1 adds tooling support for SQL Server 2008, which Microsoft released only last week.

The .Net Framework also gets some additional ASP.Net features, including ASP.Net Dynamic Data. Dynamic Data allows developers to build a data model using Language Integrated Query, the ADO.Net Entity Framework, or LINQ to SQL. The Framework can then essentially formulate the proper user interface for the application. Also included is the Routing Engine, which allows developers to create ASP.Net apps that are more easily queried by search engines than apps have been in the past.

Microsoft also has integrated both ADO.Net Data Services and the ADO.Net Entity Framework into the releases. The ADO.Net Entity Framework allows developers to raise the abstraction level of data when coding, so they can refer to objects like customer or product that include a number of data points. The related data services make ADO.Net style data easily addressable over the Internet by using REST standards.

The next step for Microsoft and the .Net Framework will be to lay out its vision for .Net Framework 4.0. When asked about those plans, Niyogi hinted that Microsoft would be detailing this future version at its semiannual Professional Developers Conference in October.

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