The Evolution of NET

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It used to be that .Net was an experimental thing that showed promise as it let out it’s really loud crib cry.  Nowadays you could not recognize it compared to it’s previous self.  None-the-less without knowing where it comes from, it will be hard to understand why it looks the way it does today.

Specifically, there are several things that out of context would seem weird even now in the latest version of .NET.  Also, why the heck are there so many versions of .NET?

The Next Version of .NET

When you’re coding, these details will help you understand where Microsoft is coming from and why certain things aren’t perfect yet.

If anything, the understanding will help to ease the frustration you will sometimes encounter.  Especially when followed with “If we were on the next version of .NET we wouldn’t have this problem”.

I predict this issue to continue until .net is almost antiquated.

Revolution or Evolution?

Microsoft may have positioned .NET as an revolution, however it was released as an evolution.

When .NET first came around, the MS world was filled with a lot of VB 6 programmers.  Yeah, sure there were a lot of C++ and MFC Programmers in Microsoft’s world, however Microsoft knew that abandoning the Existing VB 6 programmers would have been a devastating move to their following.  Thus, even though in marketing, Microsoft claimed that .NET was revolutionary and maybe it seemed that way to many VB programmers, it was really not that impressive at the start.

In fact to many of us who were knee deep in Java, .NET seemed like a re-branded Java.  That plus the emphasis of VB.NET in the slow moving strategy of change spelled out the early days of .NET 1.0 and 1.1.

The Cost of Admission

Luckily, this was only the beginning.  By the time .NET 2.0 came around, Microsoft finally started to show the value they were creating.  Not only did they want to give you a platform from which to code, but they actually wanted to make it easier to use than their competitors…  At a cost (literally).

Even though the platform is branded as “An Open Standard”, in practice it’s not really and as long as you pay for MS Windows Licenses they will make life easy for you.

The Benefits Of Each Version Released

Each version that is released of .NET contains Major additions in functionality that you can utilize as a programmer.

Things that used to take weeks or months to create now take days by using preexisting libraries and code that is already written for you.  Even though at times it has flaws, the documentation accompanying it also is extremely helpful and you know that the code you rely on is supported by a multibillion dollar company.

Thus it became apparent that the biggest benefit they provide in .NET over Java every couple of years when they release a new version is that you get new capabilities.  And new capabilities means more gets done with less effort.

That means you can raise your rate as a programmer, and do more as a company for less investment.


Some good examples of this are:

  1. In .NET 2.0 should you want to call remote applications on another server you utilized .NET Remoting.
    .NET 3.0 provided a much easier and more robust way of doing this with WCF
  2. In .NET 3.5 there are powerful data manipulation features added called “LINQ” and “the Entity Framework”
  3. In 4.0 there are extensions to make Parallel computing easier.

The list is actually much longer, however this shows the idea.

Wrapping it up

.NET is in motion because it’s taking on more Roles and Responsibilities that most developers would rather not deal with.

Each version includes new capabilities and rather than trying to tackle it all in version 1, Microsoft staggered the release.

One of the major reasons they staggered the release was to allow the world to catch up and adopt the new abilities

This cycle will continue for some time now.

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