back to article Ten years of .NET - Did Microsoft deliver?

Microsoft closes The Noughties by trying to keep up with competitors and to remain a top destination for developers by embracing cloud computing and open source. It opened the decade with another massive platform shift, though: the introduction of .NET. .NET was announced at the first TechEd of decade in Amsterdam in the year …

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  1. Filippo

    What if Microsof used it?

    Oh dear! The main complaint about Vista was performance, and you're wondering what would happen if they did it with an interpreted language? No thanks, I love .NET but C++ still has its place.

  2. Brian Tabone

    1995 here we come

    The browser as an existential thread to Microsoft, did I fall asleep and wake up in 1995?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      .NOT is more like it

      Another attempt to enslave developers and users into a "windows only" experience.

      .NOT is not welcome here.

    2. Martin Smith 2

      It isn't an interpreted language

      It is JIT compiled and possible to use NGEN to compile in advance.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Here's to 10 more

    Leaving aside some of the more persistent bugs i.e. problems with adding duplicate keys to Hashtables and DateTime issues ( it won't accept 30th of Feb as a valid date!) the framework has been pretty solid. Here's to another 10 years

  4. Hugh_Pym

    The cathedral the bazar and the bus station

    I think everyone was quite buzzed by the proposals for Longhorn and .net looked like the right thing at the right time. The engineers had delivered the plans for a magnificent cathedral but as usual the assorted managers, strategist, accounts and executives all chipped away until it was reduced to a municipal bus station. It started off looking powerful, elegant and expandable. In the end it hardly fit for purpose.

    It's my belief that .net has had the success it has despite Microsoft not because of it. Everything they put out has a smell of 'we can dominate the market' about it. Every decision is not about improving products and services but side-swiping competitors and creating lock in.

  5. Number6

    Cross-platform

    My opinion of it went up when I was able to take something I'd put together on a Windows machine and run it under Mono on Linux. I would think that if MS devoted some energy to helping clear up incompatibilities (instead of encouraging them) and keeping Mono capabilities up to date with current .NET then it will flourish.

    1. Davbis93

      Huh?

      I'm not sure if yu're joking or not.. but 30th Feb? Huh?

      1. exMVP
        Boffin

        Just Turn Off Bounds Checking

        The 30th of February is either the 1st or 2nd of March for folks flexible enough to go with the flow. Just as the 0th of any month is the last of the month preceding. Sheesh...

    2. TimeMaster T

      title

      I'm hoping you mean 29th of February as that month has never had a 30th day, ever.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Gates Halo

        Well..

        30th of February is a valid date in javascript so I don't see why .net can't deal with it - seems like a framework bug to me. I've just got five words for anyone that says it's not a valid date: "You're being pendantic"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The word

          is 'pedantic'.

          ;-)

        2. Tom Maher
          WTF?

          @AC

          Have you been smoking crack? You're seriously using a weakly typed scriptting language as your yard stick for what a programming language should be.

        3. The Commenter formally known as Matt
          Headmaster

          you're right

          It also doesn't accept 39%854{3 of Mattuary as a valid date.

          and to anyone who says its not a valid date ... etc

          1. Soupster
            Gates Halo

            At last..

            Someone with a bit of sense to back me up on the 30th Feb point. So many pendants talking about weak and strong typing - I prefer weak typing as it means the keyboard lasts longer. I'm thinking of starting a blog to highlight all these issues with the DateTime functions and bring them to the attention of Microsoft. Also, not being able to insert the same key into a hashtable multiple times is a ridiculous constraint but I'm sure all you .net pendants out there will come up with some other excuse.

            1. steward
              Headmaster

              Pendants?

              A pendant is something usually worn on a chain around the neck.

              A pedant is someone who will point out that disallowing 30 Feb as a valid date is something useful for programmers who don't check what they write.

              1. Soupster
                Gates Halo

                Whichever way you look at it

                Pedant / pendant, it's irrelevant your just being fecestious to avoid talking about the white elephant in the room here which is the whole 30th Feb issue.

                1. neBody
                  Coat

                  Feb 30th

                  I have to agree, that dates should roll over,

                  So in the same way 30 Feb is just the same as 02 Mar,

                  33 Dec 2010 would be the same as 02 Jan 2011, they are of course only relative values from a previously specified starting point, we could say 100202020 days AD, instead of grouping date into in silly years, months and days,

                  I would second a metric system, where 10 days is equivalent to 1 month. And 10 months the same as 1 year.

        4. steward
          Badgers

          Javascript???

          I could make 30 Feb look like a valid date on Wikipedia too, but that still wouldn't make it useful.

    3. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      You discredit municipal bus stations

      Municipal bus stations tend to be small, busy and reasonably efficient in the delivery of its services. There is also no reason why it shouldn't make money.

      On the other hand, cathedrals don't make money. They suck money out of the public purse while inspiring the Awe of God (and consequently his Officials on Earth) upon the Great Unwashed.

      I would rather that an OS would be a municipal bus station than a cathedral. It should be small, unobtrusive, efficient and productive.

      Besides, Apple are the people to talk to about cathedrals. They tend to go in for beauty, awe, religious devotion and Big Projects.

      1. Hugh_Pym

        Just a difference of experience

        The ones I've used tend to be inefficient, ugly and seemed to be designed for the benefit of the operator not the end user. Generally speaking not a nice place to be.

        As for making money, 'municipal' suggests council owned to me, as in tax funded, as in 'how can we dish out the contracts on this to gain the most personal benefit'.

    4. Jason LoCascio Silver badge
      Go

      Exactly !

      I thought this was the whole point of .NET from the off.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the new COBOL

    .Net is over complicated, over engineeded and with the latest "upgrade" provides even more barrier to entry.

    But there's enough code deployed that sustained engineering roles will be around for decades.

    If Office or other major Microsoft apps used it (apart from the Expression suite from the same team) it might have some credibility but that's lacking.

    As a web developer the move from Classic ASP to ASP.NET was the reason I gave up ... why lock me into Visual Studio when I can use Textmate for PHP development and deploy changes faster? Ironically, with ASP.NET MVC they seem to be going back to an replica of the old Classic ASP model (just with more layers of cruft)

  7. Daniel 1

    The developer may be their worst enemy

    A problem with .NET -, as with all systems based on huge class libraries - is that there are dozens of different ways of achieving the same ends, all of which rather bury what they are doing, from view, by design. The result of this hidden execution, however, is that - far from abstracting you from the underlying mechanics of what is going on - coding properly in .NET often means you need a much deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms, if you are to avoid a lot of the problems I am seeing with failed or failing .NET projects right now.

    It's not the technology that's bad: it's just that far too many of the people working in it are woefully under-qualified to be doing what they are doing, or earning what they are being paid, to do it. All those guys who recently stopped producing the really dreadful PHP applications? Well, they're now hard at it, cranking out .NET (and with an IDE that does intellisense, by default, they can crank out bad code at a rate they could only dream about, hitherto; and since their manager measures his e-peen by how many lines of code his underlings can produce in a day, that's just fine and dandy until the entire project hits the rocks).

    If your developers think 'code reuse' is something you do with the cut&paste keys, it really doesn't matter what technologies you use, but if a lot of high-profile projects - like the recent NHS ones - tend to die horribly, people will tend to attribute this to the fact that they were .NET projects, and won't stop to ask whether was just because the same bunch of overpaid drongos were being employed on each failed project.

    I spent much of the decade, that is now closing, looking at really really bad PHP. I now suspect I will spend much of the coming decade, looking at really really bad .NET. But Hell, who cares? I get paid to do this, and I'm not about to advocate people start doing things properly, if it means they stop needing people like me around (the fact that I get paid around a quarter, the money, of the guys who produced these clusterfucks in the first place, is by-the-by - it take four times as many people to actually support one of these creeping horrors, as it does to write it in the first place, so I guess that's only fair).

  8. Gulfie
    Grenade

    Java Platform Strategic Direction

    It's interesting to note that whilst Java the language has continued to grow through the decade, one of Sun's current development areas for the JVM is... better support for other languages on the JVM.

    So while Microsoft responded to Sun with .Net and the common language runtime, Sun is now responding to Microsoft by getting all JVM languages to the point where they are all equal in the eye of the JVM.

    In hindsight, both companies can chalk up a victory. Sun for cross-platform equality, Microsoft for cross-language inside a VM. Sun is now incorporating both ideas into its runtime (we all know where Microsoft stands with respect to running .Net on non-Windows platforms).

    As an architect I will acknowledge that both platforms are suitable for enterprise development, one will always suit a given scenario better than the other, but I will continue to lean towards the JVM as a platform even if my team isn't writing Java - because not being tied to a given OS or machine architecture carries less risk.

  9. Tom Reg

    What a kind review of an utter failure

    .Net - ah yes I remember. Announced in 2000. Not shipped in XP, so you had to force users to install it to run any app.

    There was no .net equivalent to the webbrowser com object - so you had to roll your own. This hand built com object wrapper for the web browser had lots of bugs and was lacking lots of features/api. Then came .net 2: it did ship with a webbrowser part, but it seemed that all they did was wrap the com object in .net, just like I had hand done 3 years earlier. In fact many .net objects are nothing more than com objects wrapped up. Which is ok for some stuff, but come on - the needs of programmers change over the years.

    I can't believe all the money they spent on developing .net - and what did they get - shallow wrappers of buggy circa 1997 com objects. C# may be a nice language - but its still not clear how to actually program on Windows, so not many people do. Just try and find out how you build something simple like a button that looks like it belongs in Windows. Not an easy task.

  10. The First Dave

    Diversity

    Diversity is generally regarded as a good thing, but not when it applies to a single company's products, and that has always been the Microsoft Achilles Heel: they do love to provide at least three different ways of doing anything, and this results in inherent complexity.

    On the other hand, Java has the good kind of complexity - developers have the choice of whether to write tiny little applets, or huge multi-tiered apps, all with essentially the same language. If Microsoft understand this, then they are showing no real sign of doing anything about it.

    1. Steve X
      Thumb Down

      Very true

      Personally I hate languages like Java which try to hide what the machine is doing so as to be more friendly, or somehow 'safer'. The price is all to often huge code bloat as inexperienced users throw code together and leave it to the machine to manage it all. I'd love to ask some of today's code whizkids to develope meaningful code on a 32K PDP-11 with overlays. They'd never get past "Hello World" :)

      Sure, modern machines give much more scope for more sophisticated systems, but that's no excuse for being lazy. Or for being plain incompetent, far too much of the Java code I see today has been written in "C"...

      1. Charles Manning

        re: Very true

        Using Lejos you can run meaningful bodies of Java code on a Lego NXT (64k RAM, 256k flash - with only a small fraction of the flash being used). Indeed, Lejos would even run on the Lego RCX with 32kB of ram and only a boot flash.

        But, I agree with your sentiments. Excessive platform wrapping does kill performance.

      2. Darren Bell
        Stop

        Do not Pigeon hole

        Hey there, I'm a Java programmer now, but I was brought up on PDP-11 using RSTS/RSX 11 M Plus/Vax, System 38, AS/400 etc etc. I've done C/C++ and know about writing performant code.

        Any one can write really bad code in any language. I've seen some dreadful COBOL, C/C++, JCL in my time.

        I've even done VB. Hmm, maybe I should not have owned up to that. I do agree though that .NET allows you to write very bad code very easily.

        1. BrentRBrian
          Happy

          Bad COBOL

          I have yet to see any GOOD COBOL .....

      3. Gulfie
        FAIL

        Hiding?

        What Java does is provide a consistent interface to the underlying OS and hardware. I'd dispute the word 'hide' - Java is supposed to be cross-platform, so you don't want to expose the platform-specific stuff when allows people to inadvertently tie their code to a platform. I spent the first ten years of my career coding in mainly C for Unix platforms and VMS, getting low-level code to work consistently across multiple version of Unix was a nightmare. It takes little or no effort to do this in Java, which was the whole point of the language.

        Granted there can be occasional issues moving from platform to platform because garbage collection and thread management strategies can change between VM implementations, but the argument that Java is bloaty because it abstracts out platform issues is, frankly, bollocks.

        Inexperienced users will always write too much code, regardless of the language/platform, because they are inexperienced. I used to see assembly language programs that were twice the size they needed to be because people didn't understand which instructions set which processor flags.

        I agree a lot of Java code looks and feels like C - that is because companies don't train, and staff don't have the time to learn the right way on the job. You can mentor people and improve their coding style that way quite successfully though - trying to use an OO language in a non-OO way is difficult and creates bloat of its own.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge
      FAIL

      Re: ...an utter failure

      The initial releases were also incapable of hosting out-of-process OLE objects, of the sort that Microsoft had been trying to get us to write for the previous ten years. Maybe it works now. I lost interest after a few years.

      I think the moral of the story is that if you want the entire world to re-write everything they've done to your brand new platform, for no immediate end-user (ie, customer) benefit, it helps if it is actually technologically possible to do so. Even then, mind, it's a hard sell.

      Yes, it is a kind review, but that is because mere words cannot describe what an utter failure .NET was.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe I missed something...

      Lock in to VS?

      There are a number of IDEs out there that allow you to work with .net

      You can even use notepad and compile with CSC.exe from the command line if you feel like it... the only lock in is that VS is so good (and has free editions) that there is no reason to use anything else.... thats not lock it, you do have a choice.

      And I fail to see how MVC.net (Which is an extension of the web forms development model) is anything like classic asp? Enlighten me please.

  11. Joel Mansford
    Gates Horns

    MS has used in one of it's products..

    ..MS Office Accounting. Really good product, 100% managed code - SQL Server back-end, easy to backup etc.etc.

    Then they killed it. Cheers.

  12. AndrueC Silver badge

    Meh

    I moved from 100% C++ to 75% C# over the last three years. C# is nice but it's mainly because of the integration with the IDE (and Borland's Builder was nearly as good at that) and the power of the provided assemblies (which Borland was pretty good at and could be achieved in any language if the developer knows what they are doing).

    Garbage collection is very meh. If you use RAII in C++ then resource allocation is dealt with far more efficiently and requires [i]less[/i] thought. MS have published a guide to their garbage collector and it's a stupefyingly long document full of does and don'ts.

    By contrast I can teach someone about RAII in C++ in an hour and give them a 'cheat sheet' on copy constructors that is half a page long. Their programmes will run in a far more predictable manner making resource planning a lot easier.

    The biggest issue with C++ is that programmers often don't break algorithms down far enough. It's as if they think that calling a function or a method is an expensive operation. My rule is simple - if starts to feel complicated spin it off into a new function or method.

    Oh and all programmers should learn to name their identifiers properly. Say what they bloody do - don't use some half arsed mnemonic.

  13. DrXym Silver badge

    .NET succeeded in some ways, not so much in others

    It's fashionable to hate on Java but the reality is that versions of Java run on anything from phones all the way up to big iron. Not just one implementation but many, supporting virtually every hardware architecture and OS. JVMs are compliant with various Java standards and therefore largely interchangeable. There are even multiple open source and clean room implementations of Java. And of course Java drives a huge chunk of application servers in every conceivable way. Using Java really is a no brainer if you want hardware / OS neutrality.

    .NET has tried to ape Java and has succeeded in some ways but failed dismally in others. The C# language is a lot nicer than Java, and support for (Windows) native look and feel is vastly superior. If I was writing a Windows only app I would choose C# & .NET over Java any day. On the back end things aren't so clear cut. I don't see much reason at all to use ASP.NET and .NET on servers unless I was interacting with Microsoft products. The reality is that Java offers a vast selection of solutions compared to pretty much one on .NET. There are literally dozens of MVC frameworks for example. I think .NET's future is largely in the front end with some middle tier stuff. Silverlight is very interesting technology but strictly speaking its not .NET.

    Part of the issue is that .NET is not write once, run anywhere. If it had been I think Java would be long gone. But its ability to run anywhere is a massive strength. .NET just runs on Windows with Microsoft's .NET runtime. If you're lucky it *might* run on Mono, but largely Mono seems to exist as a sop to people complaining about cross-platform support. Nobody seriously considers Mono as witnessed by the large number of NET apps polluted with Win32 calls, or that make bad assumptions about the operating environment.

    So I think Java still wins. It's biggest problem is definitely the language and its UI support. I hope with Java 7 that Java the VM and and Java the language will become a little less intertwined. It is quite possible that languages like Groovy represent the future of the language in much the same way as C++ overtook C back in the day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Well said

      Or Scala... ;)

    2. Gulfie
      Thumb Up

      Native look and feel

      Swing stinks with respect to native look and feel - I use SWT instead which by default acquires the look and feel of the OS it is running on. Very nice to program with and actually easier to deal with than Swing IMHO

  14. Mage Silver badge

    vb.net

    Yes, a waste of time. Better to go to C# if using .net or stick with vb6. No point to VB.net

    we'd be better off without com/dcom (really the development of evil Win3.x OLE). It's a broken insecure concept.

    .Net is hugely bloated and you end up with clients needing 3 versions?

  15. Richard 102

    One other issue

    When it was announced, the people at MS had a .NET label on everything, up to and possibly including the toilet brushes in the executive WC. This lead to a lot of confusion about just what the heck .NET is and isn't, what it does and doesn't, and so on. It gave a lot of people a bad taste, and that hasn't completely gone away, either.

    Then again, it's like a lot of things MS: sounds good on paper and seems intriguing, but when it comes time to ship, it's as interesting and useful as a wet cardboard box. In off-white.

  16. Ebeneser
    Alien

    Choice

    It all boils down to choice, if you want to only use Windows you use .Net, if you want to choose the platform best suited to your application, be it linux or various unix systems or Windows, you go with Java.

    If you only know Windows its a really simple choice .net and c#. If you're a bit more broad based certainly on the server side, you can write it in Java and run it pretty much anywhere. Another win for Java is the large amount of open source libraries from people like the apache foundatation. Another nice thing about is the source code is easy to come by, helping debugging and general understanding ... not sure if that's the case with .net.

    There is no doubt that .net provides a first class environment for programming Windows Enterprise systems, trouble is time spent learning it is effectively time spent tying yourself to Microsoft and their products... which is fine if you don't mind. For people like myself who've been in the industry quite a while and seen and taken part in the various 'Microsoft Wars' being tied to Microsoft isn't one of our favorite past times.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like both for different situations...

    I am fortunate enough to have programmed in both Java and .net.

    I do like both and it is not a matter of which one is better, they are both good under different situations.

    The important thing to consider is developer(s) writing the code. A competent developer can write great, manageable, efficient code in either of them. And if you are one of those who read a couple of articles and can produce "Hello World" and start writing serious application then...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Loathesome

    I loathe .NET.

    Unlike many of the Reg Readers, I am not a developer, and I have no idea what it means to developers. I know very well what it means to me as a customer and a user: Long, long downloads of stuff I have no idea what I need, followed by install times that vastly exceed the download times. Why? WHY?

    "Requires .NET Framework V.n.m.i" --- enough to put me off any software, especially the fact that its requirement is likley to be very version dependent, and one ends up going through this .NET crap download install yet again. I try to avoid software that requires it, even if I have already got the required version.

    I also hate that they stole the name. .net meant, and still does mean, something else entirely, but Microsoft doesn't own the internet, so they won't worry about that. How much more effort would have taken to come up with something slightly, vaguely, original? None, probably.

    They could have called it revolting long wait. "This Software requires Revolting Long Wait, and will now ensure you have one..."

  19. Will 28

    I think this is a weak article

    .NET really has worked. You've summed it up with the job vacancy bit. People are pursuing it in preference to Java. Microsoft have of course made gambles and lost over the course of 10 years. If you can point out a company that has not lost a business bet in 10 years I will happily retract this comment.

    .NET has not destroyed java, nor would it have done regardless of how great it could have been. It has done the best thing possible - promote competition. Java had to pull its finger out and get its version of Generics in, it had to keep innovating (not as well as .NET) to keep up with a rival language, which until then there wasn't one.

    So to summarise - I view Java as the IE6 of programming, and .NET as the firefox. It's a funny role reversal, but actually it's really been a good thing for the industry.

    1. John Sanders
      FAIL

      Still worse...

      When it asks you to update to a point release and after "the revolting long wait" the update did not work, and leave you with a machine in an inconsistent state.

      Then you have to dig on Google and follow arcane procedures to remove the thing and reinstall it again.

      Had a few of those on servers specifically installing BackupExec v11 which requires .NOT for god knows for what reason.

  20. Inachu
    Pint

    I am confused.

    In those years I have never ever seen a screen shot of what a .net desktop would have looked like.

    Maybe perhaps this was due to other court room litigation that peopel still wanted IE stripped 100% from the OS and this was proven with thin version of windows 98 and was also shown

    that the process to strip IE was the same and workable to do on Windows 2000 and XP.

    Microsoft still has not learned.

  21. James Fox

    God I'm old

    Hily Shot! My whole career summed up uin a single article. Never did goet 'round to working out whether C# was any good or not - too busy counting my money. Pray tell, what will I be coding in for the nest ten years?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    But...But...What About XAML?

    During the "Bet the Company" event in 2003, they showed us all these Director Show...er, "live code demos" of the Longhorn interface, and did all their coding on XAML.

    It was the Language of the Future™.

    So far, this comment is the first mention of this Magic Language, in either the review or the comments...

  23. jim 45

    .NET is excellent...

    ... as a developer platform, the integration with the IDE is terrifice, c# is a fine knockoff of Java. Beyond that, nothing ever came of the plans to re-do Windows itself as a set of .NET APIs so as other posters have pointed out, we're still building on top of layers of wrappers around the old Win32 oand COM interfaces.

    The developer tools group at MS did what they set out to do with .NET and delivered the goods. I think the platform group faces problems so large and so intractible that forward motion at this point is measured in inches.

    As always, the discussion comes down to: when are they just going to START OVER and rebuild Windows from the ground up? Don't hold your breath.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: .NET as a developer platform

      If you don't know the difference between the target platform (which your customers see) and the IDE (which you see) then I suggest you look it up. It'll be a real eye-opener.

  24. Don Mitchell

    Eating the dogfood

    You're right about Microsoft not using .NET enough (eating your own dogfood, as they say in Redmond). The best example of that is the javascript interpreter in IE. .NET has outstanding JIT compiling technology, something Microsoft pioneered for Visual Basic many years ago, and it came with a JIT compiled javascript. But it's not in IE! Now years later, you have the other browsers showing off their new JIT'ed javascript and embarassing Microsoft in the benchmarks.

    Talking with a friend who manages a large Java effort, they regret not having used C#. The real problem for them was the confusion of different class libraries. Perhaps if they had established some conventions at the beginning, but knowing their team of hackers, that would have been like trying to herd cats.

  25. Charles Manning

    .net failed from a MS perspective

    It was surely supposed to build a new lock-in platform that would keep everyone in MS-ville. Yeah, they got it standardised etc, but that was just to keep DOJ off their backs.

    From that perspective, epic FAIL.

  26. windywoo
    Gates Halo

    I liked .NET

    .Net seemed simpler than Java to me and the development tools were much better. Over the course of my training in Java I learned how to create command line programs that could use different functions depending on the option you chose. In the same amount of time using C# I learned how to create windows applications that could link to databases, sort the information in the databases, output the information in the database and perform calculations on it. I only did 9 months total training but I think that was enough to get the gist of what the difference was between a cross-platform running in a virtual machine and a platform specific language. Of course .NET is only really good for making Windows applications but that is a hell of a lot of machines to be writing for if you choose that option. The only reason I can see for choosing Java is that soon smartphones will be a lot more common and writing for those could provide a large target market.

    1. Gulfie
      Thumb Up

      Absolutely

      Where .Net scores is that it is possible to quickly build simple applications in a pretty much drag and drop fashion, something Java has never managed to match, altough JSF is getting there and JavaFX may actually deliver it. Undoubtably a powerful feature and one of the things that put .Net where it is today.

      My experience though is that as soon as you need more complexity, the cost of building in .Net is pretty much the same as the cost of building the same thing in Java. The old Microsoft adverts showing non-.Net developers poring over plies of diagrams always amused me because it was exactly the same in .Net world for the complex systems...

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Not a new idea

        Yeah, click and drop component programming is RAD. It's a very nice feature of C#.

        The irony though is that the guy who brought it to Microsoft had already helped implement it for Borland. Anyone who thinks that WinForms is a new idea whose time had come has missed a big trick. I was doing that kind of GUI development in C++ back in the mid-90s.

        Unfortunately Borland failed to modernise their compiler or put funds in Builder so leagues of C++ developers were stuck slaving away in MFC or WTL. Poor bastards. Unfortunately after a takeover a couple of years ago I ended up having to work on legacy projects using MFC and WTL. Years of managing to avoid it came to nought.

        It's a cruel world sometimes :-/

        Paris because I need cheering up.

  27. Darren Bell
    Grenade

    What would you choose

    If you are writing an application that has a client and server portion and you are going to sell it commercially. What would you say as your sales pitch?

    "Runs only on Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 and SQLServer only" or

    "Runs on Windows/Macs/Linux/Unix client and Windows/Macs/Linux/Unix servers and any Database you care to mention".

    Which one do you think will work the most?

    The latter is where we are and guess what language we use? And the whole lot is written and deployed with open source software. Bang for buck, you bet.

    Welcome to the real world.

    1. MS Rocks

      @ Darren Bell

      You have obviously never sold anything in your life. Customers could not give a toss what platform the application runs on - they are buying an application not an ethical debate about platforms.

      And if you are a 'commercial company' developing an app it makes commercial sense to create it using the most productive development environment (i.e Visual Studio) and target it towards the most widely adopted platform (Windows).

      1. Mike Bell 2
        Grenade

        Customers DO give a toss what platform the application runs on

        ... Because , surprisingly often, they already have the platform and they aint going to buy a new one because your application requires it. And if it's a server-based app (like virtually all enterprise software) that platform is likely to be Unix/Linux.

        If you're just making desktop toys then by all means lock yourself into Windows. But from your facile, ignorant and ill-considered comments you sound like a salesman, so you probably wouldn't understand the difference.

        1. MS Rocks

          @ Mike Bell 2

          Hah hah, I AM a salesman but that means I actually talk to real, live customers about what they actually going to do.

          As opposed to being some pathetic techie sat by himself in a dingy basement imaging what it would be like if he had a girlfriend and hypothothising about why Linux is better than Windows (ring any bells?)

          And as for your last point, I have never come across a large company that does not use Windows as a server platform. Sure they might use Unix/Linux as well, but they sure as hell will be using Windows alongside it. And I am talking about proper, big companies. Not two bit little minnows of the type that you probably (just) managed to get a job with.

          Honestly, some people on this site think they know what they are talking about wheras in reality they know absolutely fark all.

          1. Mike Bell 2
            Happy

            Oh dear

            Did I touch a nerve darling? You seem awfully upset.

            I didn't say anything regarding the relative merits of Windows Vs *nix - merely observed that whilst Windows has the lion's share of the desktop, the opposite is true of the server market. I'd have thought an expert like you would know that. Never mind - it's the weekend so you can go for a nice lie-down in a darkened room until you feel better.

            Still, it was a good guess that you're a salesman though, wasn't it?

    2. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

      @Darren Bell

      If that's your attitude, I'd hate to work for the poor folk you employ to do your software support. But then, I'd hate to work for a software company driven by the bullshit of the sales department, rather than one where software specifications are made according to sound reasoning, and the needs of the client.

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. longshot
    Linux

    polka dot bikini

    I see the usual ‘” everybody else is a lazy sloppy programmer so by inference i must be a guru” brigade have been prodded into wakefulness. I do have to chuckle into my sleeve at the arrogance of comments that imply that until one is a some sort of coding uber god that one should not have the audacity to write any code least of all attempt to compile an application.!

    Silliness. In the real world people use tools to make things. A programming language is a tool. At the moment i am sitting in front of a terminal writing a java app. I use java because I know it to the extent that I can write a functioning app suitable for my purposes. I’ve dipped into other languages as and when they have suited my purposes Perhaps I should stop what I am doing and spend the next couple of years or so until I am completely and utterly proficient in this and any other languages you may wish to suggest We learn through the application of knowledge and the identification and correction of mistakes.

  30. Rattus Rattus
    FAIL

    I absolutely frigging hate .NET

    heap of platform-specific crap that it is. Want to guarantee I'll never recommend your program to use at the govt. dept. where I work? Write it in .NET. Platform-dependency is so 90's, people. If it's not portable, I don't want it.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    .NET vs. Java

    My employer has been steadily moving from Java to .NET (in point of fact, we're pretty much there except for some third-party apps which rely on Java). Clearly, we're a majority Windows shop, and my experience is that .NET is much simpler to implement than Java. Sure, there's the periodic necessity to install a new Framework version, but it's no worse than having to update the JVM (or being afraid to update lest the new minor release break existing code). My experience is also that .NET code tends to be quicker and more reliable than Java code. .NET may not have done everything Microsoft set out to do, but it's firmly entrenched and better than its main competitor.

  32. Mr Ian
    Thumb Up

    C# Express

    It may also be worth noting the various Express IDEs that Microsoft has released, including Visual C# Express and SQL Management Studio Express. Effectively allowing your average hobby developer and small-business contract developer the ability to create Windows applications.

    This means that students and hobbyists alike can be exposed to .NET for free, which in turn should encourage them to move into .NET development. I realise Java has free tools but one of my first gripes from the early days when .NET and C# first came out is that it wasn't free for a hobbyist to play around with C# - and now it is.

    1. Whore Reamer
      WTF?

      Eh?

      @Rattus Rattus What is this world you live in where an organisation's systems are nomadic, constantly moving from platform to platform and back again? Not the real one, frankly! "Ooo, hang on, it's December again, time to migrate everything to a different platform! Good thing we're IT geniuses and our intranet can run on an Amiga 500!"

      Bloody loony, no wonder you work for a government department -- probably the treasury -- no commercial organisation would touch you!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Platform Portability

        Platform portability is an odd thing. Firstly, anyone who has ever tried running a reasonably complex Java app on a new JVM will usually testify to it being a non-trivial process. Platform portability doesn't really work on a system where it has been designed from the ground up to be portable. Certainly I would never trust a production application on a new JVM without a lot of testing.

        C# is actually almost as portable. People have written .Net runtimes for more than just windows.

        Finally, as the previous poster makes clear, you don't go and rebuild your entire infrastructure every 5 minutes. Platform migrations are few and far between.

        1. Rattus Rattus

          Indeed, we don't migrate often

          but we still want portability. We have a mix of servers, desktops and embedded systems with a range of operating systems. It's not at all unusual to want to use the same application on two entirely different platforms, and if it's written in something portable then that's easy. If it's written in .NET then we're SOL and have to try to find some other bit of software that's "close enough." Or, in many cases, we have people that just have two computers on their desk instead of one. How's that for government waste then? One computer would suit fine, if only the apps were portable. Therefore, we won't use something non-portable unless we have no choice.

      2. steward
        Grenade

        I know someone who works for US DOD...

        and they still will not use .NET because they don't trust the security in it. If forced to use M$ high-level language for something, they are required to use VB6/DAO.

      3. Marcelo Rodrigues
        Grenade

        I wouldn't hire YOU for sure! :D

        We are a softhouse. One of our clients is a pure Sun/Solaris environment. Sun as in SPARC, not x86 Sun.

        Well. We develop for them in Java. Ours desktops are Windows. The server we use to do the initial testing is Linux+Tomcat. And the client does the final validation on his test servers.

        The height of portability was wen ours desktops where Windows (and CPUs) 32 bits, and the Linux servers 64 bits (OS and CPU 64 bits). The Sun machines where 64 bits too. Beat this with C#

        So, tell me. Why would I want to use something that ties me up with a vendor?

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Bah!

          I wonder where you get your JDK from? Mine comes from Sun. Of course, I sometimes have trouble patching it on our Sun servers (we don't have any other kind) because Sun's support servers sometimes forget I'm on the contract and, well, you can't get the JDK from just anywhere.

          As for running anywhere, anytime, anyhow, for any real world Java enterprise-level deployment you are looking at running some sort of Java Application Server and they don't come free unless you are willing to go the "Glassfish and another half year's worth of development time" route. The quote we got for Websphere when we needed to deploy P8 (Java-"enabled" to the gills and therefore won't run unless you pony up for the component not mentioned in the sales literature) was so far out-of-court we're still laughing at the rep when he shows his face.

          Actually, I don't have an issue with Java as a language or a culture, just with 100% of the programmers whose work I've had the "pleasure" of using since I came to this Java-only Sun-infested site. Every one of them carries a huge chip on their shoulder (whooda guessed so from the comments here, eh?) and uses their custom GUIs to carry their political message to the masses.

          The upshot being that every new window is a voyage of discovery to see what former standard behaviour has been re-interpreted for the user's "convenience". The guy who always felt that the "close window" button never should have been in the top right corner, the one who doesn't believe in default cursor positions, the one who always hated "xmit == click on accept" semantics, and a cast of dozens more all go to make for a fuller business experience while at the same time slowing down actual work to a manageable speed.

          And lets not forget the buggy screen refreshes, lost key-clicks and the rest of the box-of-tricks Java (on a sun workstation before you gets uppity) brings to the table.

          But the good news is this is all portable so these 'features" aren't confined to Sun systems.

    2. copsewood
      Linux

      different language optimisations

      "The reason is simple: Garbage Collected Languages are simply not up to the task when it comes to high-performance, high-throughput and low-latency applications."

      True these languages will probably always be slower than applications written close to the metal in C or C++. But there exist a wide range of values of performance cost for different GC languages. GC languages also have different improvement factors in relation to programmer productivity from each other. Programmer productivity is the critical constraint to be optimised far more frequently than not, unless you are a live action roleplay games developer or working on system software or realtime control systems.

      Perl and Python are GC languages. These both provide much higher programmer productivity than even Java and C#. Python is unlike Perl in the sense that Python source code is usually much more readable. I was changing a Python application I wrote myself 3 years ago earlier today, with a hard deadline to meet and it worked perfectly and on time in a small virtual machine server memory footprint for dozens of concurrent web application users, with no apparent latency evident.

  33. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
    Troll

    bloat bloat bloat bloat bloat bloat

    Bloat is everywhere

    But not only in windows

    Linux kernel too

    Stupid things like NET

    Encourage bloat very much

    Stop crap like this now

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    RE: What would you choose #

    it really depends on which market you are aiming at - some won't know what a Client Server application is - even though that is what you are selling them.

    and writing for .net limits you to Windows XP - Vista, not Windows 7 - oh and you can use other DBs than SQL server.

  35. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Missing the point

    The big problem Microsoft has is that it has nothing else than the best way to run Win32 and Win16 applications. That's why Vista didn't sell.

    .net is just a marketing hype. Compared to C++ it may be good, but it's not really suitable for application development. The .net runtime is just _huge_. And it's typically not installed on most computers.

    There are free and open source alternatives like Lazarus, which is a plattform independent Delphi clone. Unlike C++ and C you can have runtime checks and exception handling. (No, runtime-checks barely have any impact on actual performance, those times are _long_ gone)

  36. fishslice

    C# XAML

    C# should get more praise I think as it's a fantastic language that continues to improve at a rate of knots. 3.0/3.5 and LINQ in particular are the first languages to have got me excited the way Smalltalk did 25 years ago. And because it's so expressive and has this increasingly declarative and functional style, it is arguably the best language for those onboard with the software craftmanship. Also because .NET is so productive, it has an excellent and natural fit with Agile/XP.

    @Anonymous Coward I code in XAML pretty much every day and it's absolutely awesome. Our product is differentiated in part by a very advanced (for want of a better word) UI and the stuff we are able to do easily in XAML would take months in Unmanaged C++.

  37. Whore Reamer
    Thumb Up

    .NET still the best choice for business

    Our business is a web-based service and we're very happy that we picked .NET to build it with. The .NET class library is excellent, far richer than other platforms we evaluated -- the only missing or weak area being charting controls. However, Microsoft's purchase of Dundas a year or so ago, and MS Chart now being a free add-on, has more than remedied this.

    We've now built up a strong library of our own extended and custom controls, which means development of new functionality is rapid, consistent, and rock solid. Compared to previous projects done with PHP (for example), we are in a much better place.

    Java was a serious consideration for us, but given that cross-platform was of no interest, and the relative strength of Visual Studio as a development tool, .NET has proven to be excellent.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    XML

    Reading this story I'm reminded yet again of what a load of utter shite XML is, and everything based on it.

  39. deadlockvictim Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Suits decide

    It has been my experience that coders do not pick Microsoft products for anything other than gaming. Microsoft is picked for them. People who do code as a hobby, don't tend to do it in .Net.

    It is the management of businesses who become seduced by Microsoft. Well, they know no better, do they? And the marketing from Microsoft is right. So management announces that they will be an MS house and use MS tools. They then look for people who have experience with .Net, SQL Server and so on. Microsoft products cost a lots of money, proof surely that they are good. Anway, Excel and Powerpoint are cool tools, right, so the rest must be up to this high calibre.

    It becomes a vicious circle. People develop their experience with MS products and a critical mass is formed.

    I like SQL Server, but it comes at a high price. I like C# too but I find sites developed in .Net to be *slow* [1]. Maybe the developers or the site-design is poor, I don't know. It's just that I can't ever use the word 'responsive' in a positive way with MS products.

    These are just opinions based on my experience of Microsoft products. No doubt there are swift apps built on elegant code.

    happy christmas all

    [1] I define 'slow' as taking longer than 3 seconds for a page to load on a broadband or better connection.

  40. pablo011
    WTF?

    @Christian Berger

    "net is just a marketing hype. Compared to C++ it may be good, but it's not really suitable for application development."

    Your funny. Have you ever written an application?

    1. Robinson

      Wrong?

      I have chosen .NET, because it's got a rich set of libraries, fantastic language features and an excellent development environment. It can be used on the majority of PC's in business (and at home). It's a pain having to ship the run-times "just in case" the user doesn't have them installed, but this isn't an issue with 7.

      The best thing about .NET is the rapidity with which I can build and deploy applications. I'm not talking about internet development here, I'm talking about LOB applications.

      1. c3
        FAIL

        @Robinson - You sound like a MS advertorial

        No self respecting coder would EVER use the phrase "fantastic language features".

        And if you picked .Net to code as a hobby (as you claim), why would you care that "It can be used on the majority of PC's in business (and at home)". You should only care that it runs on your machine(s).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Troll

          troll

          > I have chosen .NET, because...

          <insert>hot air</insert>

          I'm a PC and Windowz 7 was my idea.

          *Yawn

          Merry Christmas El Reg... Nice M$ Advertisment feature :)

    2. JDoes
      FAIL

      @pablo011

      You're funny. Have you ever written an application that didn't suck?

  41. url
    Paris Hilton

    no mention of j#

    j# has a great deal of potential in my mind.

    but yeah, C# and .NET make enterprise java look awful in comparison.

    my experience of java is that's it's slow, and incredibly delicate.

    Not like Paris, shes as robust as they come.

  42. c3
    FAIL

    What a load of crap

    "If the goal of .NET was to see off Java, it was at least partially successful. Java did not die, but enterprise Java became mired in complexity, making .NET an easy sell as a more productive alternative."

    - It might be an easy sell cause the people doing the buying are not the ones who'll do the coding.

    - When written by good coders Java can be beautiful and simple. However, in the hands of morons it can turn into an ugly thing that's entirely too complex for their comprehension abilities - just like any language, including C#.

    - The promises of marketing (perfect integration, has every tool for your needs, you can do everything with the mouse, you won't need to write a line of code and all the other crap) are just crap. Managers eat that shit up as if there ever was a tool that could cover all the needs of a large application. Every particular application has its own specific requirements and quirks and if you don't have good people to implement a proper solution not even .Net can fix it for you.

    - Productivity might be better if you develop for IE only. Otherwise for the server side a Java coder who's experienced with a certain stack (say Hibernate, Spring) can develop just as fast if not faster.

  43. Jax 1
    Thumb Up

    Wow @ some of these comments

    RE: The article:

    "It took Microsoft a further eight years to come up with the idea of a client profile"

    They introduced this after 3.5 which added fatties such as WCF, WPF ontop the existing framework. .NET 2.00 is still a pretty small redist. IMO they didn't really need to use client profiles before this.

    I've been using it since about 2002 and love it. The amount of thought that has gone into it is amazing and it is beautifully designed. In the 8 years I have been using it I have only encountered 1 bug which was a teeny UI issue on Vista.

    In terms of productivity boosting it is excellent, I don't know about these other coders that seem to favour scouring .h files and reading potentially inaccurate documentation. I guess that might be fun but I'd rather just add an assembly and check out the metadata for the docs. Hell, I can even Reflector the assembly and read the actual code instead.

    The number of tools, APIs and whatnot is comprehensive. .NET covers a lot of stuff and in most cases you can remain totally in the managed world. Sure it's technically bloat, but if that bloat ensures that my string is...... er.. well a string and I don't have to worry about memory allocations (0xC0000005 anyone? Ain't never seen that caused by .NET) then i'm happy to have that bloat.

    To state (as one brave soul did) that you can't create a "proper" application in .NET is an utter, utter nonsense. I've created and worked on numerous apps of numerous size with .NET and any performance issues have been due to shit code, not .NET.

    While I agree that there might be more "inept" developers in managed environments than unmanaged ones if you're _really_ competant you'll develop good code and you'll also be able to recognise that a managed environment is logical abstraction and progression to build ontop of a native stack.

    I know its nice to talk computer (bits, bytes, pointers) but I prefer to talk in human terms (numbers, strings and references as an abstract concept instead of the absolute pointer). The two are also not mutally exclusive so my knowledge of the former is not lost by commonly using the latter.

    .NET Compact Framework sucks tho. Well....mebbe that's too harsh but it's disappointingly sparse in comparison to FF 2.0.

  44. This post has been deleted by its author

  45. steward
    Jobs Horns

    .NET is good as a language, but...

    ADO is ridiculous. It requires much more coding for simple connections than DAO does, and DAO is closer to standard SQL than ADO is.

    If M$ had really wanted .NET to take off, they would have included an upgrade wizard that modified DAO code to ADO code, or at least provided a standard class that didn't require initial recoding.

  46. John F***ing Stepp

    I looked at dot net once.

    OK, come on, you must be joking; you're not? You must be retarded.

    Macros and all of a sudden you (put a really bad expletive deleted here) think you have done something for programming? If I wanted macros I would have continued with Assembly.

    Dot net should have been led out behind the barn and quietly put down; the concept purged with extreme embarrassment.

    OK, hold up your hand, someone out there thinks it was a 'bright' idea.

    D**bass.

  47. exMVP
    FAIL

    Blew the Easy Bet

    All Microsoft had to do to guarantee unqualified success of .NET was to insure that Classic VB code ran in the new environment. (If it produced identical results, unlike some of the very few portable snippets today, that would of course have been a bonus.) Instead, they cast off the largest developer community the world has ever known, because the C-freaks who produced it purportedly were unable to grok that Integers were 16-bit and Longs were 32-bit. True story, from the guy who patented iSnot.

  48. richard.grimes
    Thumb Up

    Mixed, but generally good

    In general .NET is a success, but it has its problems. First a few corrections to the other comments.

    ,NET languages are not interpreted, like Java the code is compiled to an intermediate language and this is just in time compiled (on a per-method basis) at runtime by the virtual machine. The JIT compiler was written by people from the VC++ team and hence is optimised. The performance of JITted code is nearly as good as native C++.

    Incidentally, WinForms is not a performance hog. It is a very thin wrapper over Win32.

    Microsoft have always been careful to avoid the Java "write once, run anywhere" concept, for good reason. As every Java developer knows, it degenerates into "write once, test everywhere". Consequently .NET code is compiled for one platform. Yes Silverlight can run on different platforms but that IMO is an exception.

    One of the principle reasons for .NET was the security model. .NET security was in addition to NT security and added a new concept: code gained permissions to execute other code based on criteria other than the logged on user (things like the source of the code, X502 certificate, hash etc). This is a very important change. This model stopped the existance of .NET viruses (other than the most trivial phishing malware).

    Up to Longhorn there was a semblance of a strategy. Longhorn was supposed to be the culmination and the OS was supposed to be substantially .NET. The version handed out at the 2003 PDC was many years of development, and all development had put .NET first. The shell was based on WPF and part of the file system was based on an object database called WinFS. It was ambitious.

    However, after the PDC Microsoft very hurriedly dropped Longhorn, re-jigged Windows Server 2003 and added a slimmed down version of .NET. WinFS was gone. Initially they didn't even install WPF or WCF. They went from an OS that could not work without .NET to one where they appeared to be embarrassed about the framework. My constant comments about this tepid acceptance of .NET were not welcomed by Microsoft :-( and later I learned that there was a lot of internal politics involved at Microsoft between those who supported .NET and those who didn't.

    The problem with this political battle is that the overall strategy was lost. There was no longer a credible plan to what .NET represented. The result is a confusing plethora of libraries and additions to the languages. This isn't to say that .NET is bad - quite the opposite in fact - but it has lost its way. There does not seem to be a coordinated strategy.

    What is its future? Well, the first point to make is that COM will always be in Windows, .NET will not, and cannot, replace it. (Simple example, drag and drop uses COM. Without COM you will not be able to drag and drop items between applications.) But similarly .NET will always be in Windows, since there are tools in Vista and now Win7 that are written in .NET. As yet Microsoft does not trust .NET for their services, but they do allow third parties to write services with .NET (knowing that Microsoft do not provide Windows services written in .NET should you trust a third party .NET service? I cannot answer that.)

    Microsoft will continue to develop the library and framework, but the developments will be sporadic, they still have no overall strategy of what .NET means to the Windows platform. If you intend to write a new application then the best course is to write it with .NET: VS makes it easy to do this. If you have an existing application in C++ or VB (classic) keep it in its original language. You can wrap existing code as COM objects since .NET access to COM is high performance. (However, porting native code to .NET is a recipe for disaster.)

    If only Microsoft could decide themselves what .NET means to the Windows platform!

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    .NET working as planned

    The success of .NET cannot be analysed as a discreet entity. It is part of the Microsoft ecosystem and should be treated as such.

    It was created in response to the threat that cross-platform applications would provide consumers with a path from Windows to other operating systems. .NET does split the developer community, and so is working as planned. When the waters are murky people stick with what they know, i.e. Windows. Whether this effect is enough to offset Microsoft's investments in the technology is something only Microsoft's accountants can answer.

    Business considerations aside, there is still a dearth of killer consumer applications in .NET. I think this is due to the fact that while .NET has been good at slowing the spread of applications across desktop platforms, it has been far less successful at keeping them off the web. I would have like to see a table of this kind of data presented above.

    I'm aware this post is unduly cynical, but this should have been part of the article's analysis, and someone has to bring it up.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fingers crossed.

    "Microsoft needs to come up with some new strategy that is at least as bold, if it is to counter the next decade's threats to its platform."

    Well, as a mainly non-Windows-platforms developer and part-time Linux user, here's to hoping that they don't.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It isn't there for distributing apps

    I support a c++ app, distributed to 60,000+ desktops that has an auxillary VB6 database app to support certain aspects of it. Once VB6 was discontinued, we looked at switching the support app to dotnet but were (and are) horrified to see the penetration rates of the dotnet framework out there on desktops in 'office land'. We tested the target platforms directly for runtimes from the VB6 app, not relying on generic 'industry data'. We concluded that we would have to emply extra staff to deal with all the reboots to implement a dotnet solution.

    Dotnet failed us.

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