Microsoft Updates Old .NET Framework for Arm64

For years now, Microsoft has been updating its old, Windows-only, proprietary .NET Framework even as it has advanced the new open source, cross-platform .NET Core order of frameworks, which have evolved into just plain .NET 5, .NET 6 and so on.

Since .NET Framework 4.8.0 shipped in May of last year, dev cycles have focused on fixes and maintenance in "security and quality rollup updates."

This week, however, Microsoft announced .NET Framework 4.8.1, which is available for download while also being bundled into the new Visual Studio 2022 17.3 release that shipped on Tuesday.

The key item in the release notes is native support for Arm64, specifically "Add native Arm64 support to the .NET Framework family to leverage the benefits of running workloads natively on Arm64 for better performance when compared to running x64 code emulated on Arm64."

Other new goodies include accessible tooltips and accessibility improvements to Windows Forms.

".NET Framework 4.8.1 adds native Arm64 support to the .NET Framework family," Microsoft said in an Aug. 9 blog post. "So, your investments in the vast ecosystem of .NET Framework apps and libraries can now leverage the benefits of running workloads natively on Arm64 for better performance when compared to running x64 code emulated on Arm64."

Native Arm64 support only came to Visual Studio in June with the release of Visual Studio 2022 17.3 Preview 2.

"This will be the first version of Visual Studio that will natively support building and debugging Arm64 apps on Arm-based processors," said Microsoft's Mark Downie in an announcement post at the time. "Our key goal with this preview is to introduce and stabilize the most popular Workloads used by developers who are building apps that run on Arm64, and to gather feedback from the community to help us prioritize additional experiences and Workloads as we work toward General Availability (GA) later this year."

The Arm64 support was previewed by Microsoft in May during its Build developer conference. "We have been steadily building momentum to support our Arm64 developer community, which includes hardware, toolchain, and of course, Visual Studio," Microsoft said at the time. "The Arm64 Visual Studio preview will be publicly available for everyone in the next few weeks."

Typically, the Arm architecture is used to build CPUs for low-power mobile devices, increasingly being used instead of x86-based architectures in larger devices. Arm64 is an extension -- or evolution -- of the ARM architecture that supports 64-bit processing, and Visual Studio 2022 is 64-bit software.

As far as WCAG2.1-compliant accessible tooltips introduced in the v4.8.1 release, this week's announcement said: "Microsoft has a commitment to providing products and platforms that are accessible to everyone. .NET Framework 4.8.1 provides two Windows UI development platforms, both of which provide developers with the support necessary to create accessible applications for their users. Over the past several releases, both Windows Forms and WPF have added several features and fixed numerous reliability issues related to accessibility. You can read more about the details of what we fixed or added in each release by visiting What's new in accessibility in .NET Framework.

Other highlights listed in this week's announcement for Windows Forms, the first Windows UI stack created for .NET Framework, include:

  • Text Pattern Support: "In this release, WinForms added support for the UIA Text Pattern. This pattern enables assistive technology to traverse the content of a TextBox or similar text-based control letter by letter. It enables text to be selected within the control and changed, as well as new text inserted at the cursor. WinForms added this support for TextBox, DataGridView cells, ComboBox controls and more."
  • Addressing Contrast issues: "We've addressed high contrast issues in several controls and have changed the contrast ratio of selection rectangles to be darker and more visible."
  • Fixed several DataGridView issues: "In this release, we've updated the scrollbar names to be consistent. We've addressed an issue where Narrator was unable to focus on empty DataGridView cells. Developers are now able to set the localized control type property for Custom DataGridView cells. The link color for DataGridViewLink cells has been updated to have better contrast with the background."

Along with being included in the latest Visual Studio release, .NET Framework can be downloaded for Windows 10 Version 20H2 and later versions and Windows Server 2022 and later versions.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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