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A Matter of Orchestration

Since the dawn of the .NET era, Microsoft has too often been victim of its own orchestration. Intriguing features and capabilities would be cooked into platforms and frameworks, with few tools to take full advantage of them. From the release of WPF in .NET 3.0 to the frustrating bottlenecks facing Visual Studio developers working with SharePoint, the mismatch between tools and platforms has been an ongoing issue.

Microsoft, to its credit, has worked hard to address the situation. Once-interminable release cycles--which produced epic waits for SQL Server 2005 and Windows Vista among others--have given way to shorter, iterative releases that allow products to catch up to each other. Microsoft has also worked to provide toolkits to bridge the gaps, whether it was the ASP.NET AJAX Toolkit (code named Atlas) for Visual Studio 2005 a few years back, the SharePoint extensions to Visual Studio 2008, or the ASP.NET MVC tooling that Microsoft has been advancing.

With Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4 on the horizon (albeit, slightly delayed from the expected March 22 launch date), Microsoft is prepared to put its tooling and platforms in something closer to lock step. Matured XAML tooling promises to ease Silverlight and WPF development in Visual Studio, even as Expression Blend offers compelling capabilities for designers. SharePoint finally gets first-class treatment in the VS IDE. And the recently updated Entity Framework 4 should bring stability to unsettled seas in the data access layer space.

Notably, Microsoft has come out of the gates preaching a synchronized vision for its Windows Azure cloud platform. At the Professional Developers Conference in November, Microsoft announced versions of the AppFabric middleware (comprising the Velocity distributed cache engine and Dublin app server extensions) as a common resource for both Windows Server and Windows Azure applications.

Microsoft has for a long time preached the benefits of leveraging .NET, from familiar tooling and skill sets to the ability to share code across projects. With the release of Visual Studio 2010, .NET 4, and updated apps and platforms like Silverlight 4 and SharePoint 2010, we're seeing Microsoft actually pay off on all the preaching.

Do you think Microsoft is doing a better job of synching its tools and platforms? What could Redmond do better? Email me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 01/04/2010

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