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More to Vista Than an OS

I confess that I can't get very excited about the arrival of Windows Vista. I did buy a new computer, partly in preparation for running Vista (2GB of RAM, and wishing I could get more), but will likely wait a while before I call it my OS of choice.

But the developer technologies associated with Vista, now collectively labeled .NET 3.0, promise to be much more interesting and more immediately worthwhile to the developer community. These include the Windows Communications Foundation (WCF), the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), and the Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF).

Thanks to Microsoft's retrofitting these components, albeit imperfectly, to run on Windows XP, developers have been able to use them for some time. The last two VSLive! Conferences in San Francisco have featured keynote talks that focused on the WCF, and the ease of building Web services using this technology. Two years ago, the demonstration centered on writing reliable, secure transactions using three lines of code, down from the 57,000 lines required without the libraries.

As a sometimes practitioner of BPM strategies, I have a special appreciation of WWF. The state machine behind the visual design palette provides an easy way to actually build simple workflows. It lacks the power and compatibility of some of the broadly accepted standards in the business, but it represents an easy way for Visual Studio developers to implement business processes.

WPF is the most interesting, yet most long-term, of the .NET 3.0 technologies. Developers love using new tools to build new user interfaces, and really don't need an excuse to do so. WPF interfaces don't appear to run well on XP (although they can be developed on that OS), so any developer who have a captive Vista audience will likely use that opportunity to use WPF for a new look.

Because WPF has been available in preview form for quite a while, some developers have already gained some practice in it. I've had the WPF tools and runtime components running under Windows XP for almost a year. I can't say I've done anything particularly constructive, but I have designed a few new-looking user interfaces. Others have done quite a bit more with the preview, and are ready for more when the opportunity presents itself.

There won't be a killer application for Vista. No 'gotta have it' gamebreaker. But there are guys who are building new user interfaces, and new web services and business processes, waiting for the opportunity to use them. When Vista reaches critical mass, there will be some great new applications. Count on it.

Posted by Peter Varhol on 02/04/2007

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