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In .NET Updates, Traditional Framework Takes Back Seat to Core

Microsoft's shift from the traditional 16-year-old .NET Framework to modernized "Core" implementations is picking up in pace.

With the .NET Framework introduced in 2002 so closely tied to Windows, Microsoft needed to make some changes in its new era of openness and interoperability, so in 2016 it debuted its Core versions, which are open source and cross platform, running on macOS and Linux in addition to Windows.

As the initial Core offerings (along with .NET Standard, which specs out what APIs all .NET implementations should support) lacked some robustness and functionality, Microsoft was guarded in its migration advice at first.

For example, less than a year ago, the company's Immo Landwerth said "So there are good reasons why you may not want to port to .NET Core."

He continued: "Depending on what you're doing, if you're building a Windows Forms app or UWP apps or using WebForms apps, you probably should not port to .NET Core yet because the .NET Framework is still the best bet that you can take."

Since then, all that has changed.

At a recent Visual Studio Live! conference, Microsoft's Beth Massi indicated that .NET Core is definitely the future -- even for those Windows desktop applications -- and it was time for developers to get onboard.

Specifically, the message was that future .NET Core versions would support those desktop apps, obviating the earlier advice about which applications should be ported.

"As we move forward into the future, with .NET Core 3, we're going to see some more workloads that we're going to be working on here, mainly Windows desktop," Massi said. "We're bringing Windows desktop workloads to .NET Core 3, as well as AI and IoT scenarios.

"The big deal here is now that if you're a WinForms or WPF developer you can actually utilize the .NET Core runtime."

As for the traditional .NET Framework, she said it will still get updates, but not with major new features or functionality that had tended to break some applications because .NET was so hooked into Windows.

"We will continue to update the .NET Framework, but you'll see it slowing down," Massi said, noting developers primarily will see new security protocols or critical Windows features they can take advantage of, along with bug fixes and other things that maintain a very high compatibility bar so things don't get broken.

That message was borne out in the latest .NET updates.

A day after announcing Entity Framework Core 2.2 Preview 3, ASP.NET Core 2.2 Preview 3 and .NET Core 2.2 Preview 3, Microsoft announced only a Preview of Quality Rollup for .NET Framework, as was done for September, along with an earlier .NET Framework October 2018 Security and Quality Rollup.

The .NET Framework updates mostly included minor bug fixes.

There wasn't much going on in the .NET Core update, either, as Microsoft published mostly minor tweaks in the final milestone before the RTM v2.2 edition is shipped later this year.

The ASP.NET Core and Entity Framework Core updates received more new functionality, which you can learn more about by clicking on the links above for each update.

One main takeaway from the updates, however, is the reinforcement of Massi's earlier statements about the shift from .NET Framework to .NET Core, forecasting the "slowing down" of NET Framework updates.

"So you shouldn't feel pressured to move off .NET Framework, but just know that it's going to be much more highly targeted compatible fixes kind of going forward and we recommend that all new development that you start on .NET is on .NET Core if possible," she said.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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