back to article Is Microsoft's Javascript chief killing his .NET creation?

A recent discussion with a friend about the origins of Microsoft's .NET runtime prompted a little research. How did it come about? A quick search doesn't throw up any detailed accounts. Part of the problem is that much of it is internal Microsoft history, confidential at the time. One strand, mentioned here, is Colusa's …


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  1. Concrete Gannet

    CEF used compile-on-install like NGEN, not JIT

    The MSDN article on CEF at makes clear CEF was compiled to native code at install time. So CEF does not rely on a Just In Time (JIT) compiler and is thus distinctly different from standard .NET practice.

    .NET has the option of compile-on-install using a utility called NGEN, the Native Image Generator. Some of the experience with CEF might have gone into that.

    I would love to see a detailed comparison of the CEF instruction set and MSIL/CIL.

  2. Mark 65 Silver badge

    Dark days indeed

    "Right now, these are dark days for .NET, because Microsoft now seems to be positioning HTML and Javascript as the new universal runtime."

    I can just see the enterprise - one of, if not, the largest users of .Net - switching from the .Net framework to some bag of bollocks based on HTML5 and JS. It may well get more people writing on the platform, it may even become a universal runtime (if they don't start putting proprietary/platform dependent hooks in it for speed), but it won't kill off .Net for the people that actually use it.

  3. Renato
    Thumb Down

    Article summary

    Part of .NET history since its beginning in 1994 to 2000;

    Paragraph commenting about Windows 8 being able to run on ARM and on x86 with one sentence bridging eleven years of history;

    Three paragraphs and a quote saying Microsoft has a JavaScript engine built by the same guys who did the .NET Framework and they are promoting their product.

    Where's the El Reg tombstone icon?

  4. Concrete Gannet

    OmniVM instructions nothing like MSIL

    According to, the OmniVM intermediate language was RISC like, nothing like the stack oriented MSIL and Java bytecodes. Curiously, the Parrot intermediate language is register based like OmniVM and the developers claim it performs significantly better then MSIL or Java bytecode.

  5. Tom 7 Silver badge

    HTML and Javascript?

    That would be MS HTML and Javascript.

    IE8 borks the JavaScript DOM model already - how far will they go to screw others up?

  6. Tchou

    as Joel Spolsky stated

    the problem is that Microsoft has too much Devlopment Tools dev teams.

    Far too much for any programmer to cope with.

    You can't guess wich one will stay, wich one will die.

    The best bet might be good old native languages like C or C++, wich are the core of just every other tools that happen to come and go.

    Just my 2 euro-cents.

  7. Mark Rendle

    No no no

    Just because Microsoft have announced that Windows 8 will support native applications crafted using HTML and Javascript, that doesn't mean they're killing off .NET, any more than .NET meant they were killing off C++. It simply means that Windows is an agnostic platform for which you can develop using a wide range of tools and technologies.

    1. Tchou
      Thumb Up

      I wish

      you're right. I have some doubts, but time will tell.

  8. QI

    Clueless Journalists!

    Are you just bothered about page hits? You can't replace a tank with a water gun and expect to win. HTML/Javascript is a water gun as compared to .Net so please stop publishing these idiotic articles to get page hits. Can you please let me know where the alternatives to the following are in HTML/Javascript Linq, WCF, WF, WPF, Com Interop,

    The reason MS is pushing HTML/Javascript is to attract script kiddies (who think they know everything after learning a couple of Javascript libraries).

    Please kindly let me know once you have the answer. Now go and find another topic for page hits.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Ooops, code monkey alert!

      You seem to have a problem separating underlying technology and the libraries available for it.

      1. QI


        You build libraries on solid underlying technology which is what .Net is. Not a half backed scripting language like Javascript.

        Why you think Google is pushing it's Native plugin? Why is Android development on top of Java? Why is Apple using Objective-C? Just a clue, bcoz Javascript is not fit for the job for any complex application.

      2. DPWDC

        As a code monkey...

        Don't think using "code monkey" it as a derogatory term helps your case on an IT site A/C.

        Secondly, you miss the point of QI's post. Server side code can't be replaced with HTML5.

        1. amehaye

          Server side code

          Not HTML. But node.js is, well, javascript.

  9. Ru

    C# vs JS?

    The thought of trying to write large, complex applications using javascript fills me with horror.

    The idea that MS would drop what is now a remarkably nice language with a substantial developer base for a scripting language seems... unlikely, to say the least.

  10. semprance


    Having built quite a few large and complex applications (my latest an FTP client) I can say from experience that there is absolutely no reason complex applications cannot be built using javascript.

    It is the javascript APIs that a platform provides for interaction with OS services that makes the difference, and it is this that will make or break it for Microsoft.

    As for the idea of them dropping .NET, I'm also a long-time C# developer and I can't see this happening at all. In fact I don't doubt that the JS APIs will be built using some CLR language (probably C++ but I'm just wildly guessing).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whine, whine

    Javascript is a language. It's a complex, fairly well spec'd language. As such, and at that level, you can compare it with any other language on the planet.

    @DPWDC: Some people chose to stay a code monkey all their lives. I have no problem with that. However, if you want to comment on languages and frameworks outside of your area, you can't think like a code monkey. There are many languages, frameworks and technologies out there - use the one most suitable for the job (at which point you are no longer a code monkey).

    @QI: Keep going, it's hilarious.

    @Ru: It's still only a language, people have managed to build solid frameworks for it and build solid apps on top of that. To the extent that there's now a push to get server side JavaScript mainstream.

    @semprance: Exactly. Please up vote my original post. All the haters are harshing my vibe...

  12. LJRich


    Who is saying HTML5+JS is going to be used to write business logic?

    Microsoft are taking HP's webOS idea (well received... by those few who actually bought a handset...), and updating it to use HTML5 + JS. This will begin a new era of lightweight, interoperable applications speaking to cloudy services. If we really want the Star Trek/Minority Report/Demolition Man world then this is a mandatory step. I'm not a MS fan, but I think they might actually be doing the right thing here and thinking longer term.

    The Java/.NET/PHP/Python/Ruby/Go war will still go on, but it will be isolated to the server side. This is where all the 'proper' programming will be done. The winner of that will be whoever has the best server features. MS wins there too, best IDE, promising native support for WCF coming in the 'WCF Web Api [sic]' package (

    This will result in a world of software that updates automatically, isn't version-fragmented (like Android), is multimedia-friendly, is easily entered by people with little skill (good and bad thing...) and has a good learning curve which might result in some interesting applications of the technologies.

    Stop worrying, and start embracing.

  13. Anonymous Coward 99


    From someone who was an active developer when this was all introduced - The common runtime was quite clearly a "best of breed" taking a fresh look at byte code engines like Java's (but with the restriction that the world was ALL Java removed), Garbage collection tweaked to work better in real time environments, reflection, fine grained security and versioning - working in a hot swap way, etc.

    It was also the basis of consistent end-to-end tool and debug support, which was brilliant for us poor "code monkeys" to use, and meant MS could have been completely independent of processor model, had they wanted to.

    Even after it was published in standards, and Mono came along, I was always disappointed that it wasn't used as the basis of more outside Microsoft, as it was one of the best bits of tech MS ever produced.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Unrealistic article IMO

    "The end of .NET".

    I wonder if the writer realizes how much embedded .NET actually is within the Windows environment ? And I also wonder if he realizes its popularity; just take a look at a project like Mono:

    People who are working hard to realize .NET support on other non-Windows platforms like Linux and OS X.

    The main reason I think its a rubbish article - from a sysadmin point of view - is because .NET is actually an invaluable tool when it comes to systems administration. Maybe even without realizing it...

    Take Powershell. A tool which has drawn me in like a magnet. And being a former Solaris admin it also made me feel quite comfortable. Sure; I can use a remote desktop session, then go to "start -> admin tools -> computer management -> Local users/groups -> Users (double click)" and voila; I have a list of all the users on that system. Now to printscreen or open notepad and start typing...

    I can /also/ fire up Powershell as admin (makes it easier) and do this:

    Invoke-Command macron -ScriptBlock { Get-WmiObject Win32_SystemUsers } | Select-Object -Property PartComponent

    ...where 'macron' is the name of the computer I'm trying to reach.

    And wham, I have a list of all the users on that system in less than 20 - 30 seconds (since it also provides 'code completion' it makes typing a breeze). AND it easily allows me to dump this output in a textfile or filter it out even more.

    All of this is pure ".NET power". I can pick up C# Express (free Visual Studio version), start a new library/class project (I'm still a beginner with this) and add a reference to the PowerShell libraries ("References") which then allows me to build upon the PowerShell infrastructure and write expansions for it. All .NET.

    Microsoft has done some very dumb things in the past, true. But NO WAY that they are going to pull the plug on this. That's sheer impossible; there are just too many aspects to .NET than most people (myself included) realize. It would be suicide.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Has the author ever spoke to Andres H. about the history of .Net?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    April Fool!

    Pinch and punch for the first of the month.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Thinking after the facts (of writing)

    Now.. I have to admit that I find this line of thinking a bit odd and "awkward" myself but... I really came to appreciate the "El Reg" forum (and I'm /always/ serious about my posts) so why not?

    One issue I haven't seen addressed anyway (keep in mind that I didn't look hard) is: "What if MS were to /embed/ or better put: /expand/ their .NET environment with support for Javascript" ?

    Google allows you to write up code in Java which then gets "translated" into Javascript. Microsoft already has some history with this when you look at their VB and C# setups. Now; I'm new to this but to me it looks like 2 languages (Basic and "Java") getting the same kind of results.

    So am I being unrealistic if I'm wondering about Microsoft having some kind of "trick" on their sleeves which allows people to write / utilize the .NET environment using Javascript/HTML5 ?

    The thought honestly just popped into my mind. And I know it sounds unrealistic to some degree but then again... Google did the opposite to some extend; why shouldn't MS be capable of "reversing" that (once again; to a certain degree).

    Just my 2 "after-the-thread" cents.

  18. Sirius Lee


    What a crap story. And it ends with:

    "Right now, these are dark days for .NET, because Microsoft now seems to be positioning HTML and Javascript as the new universal runtime."

    I read a comment to some blog in which the commenter described a new product call Journalism. The great thing about Journalism is that it's an add-on the HTML5 which makes it able to do anything. A truly remarkable innovation and clearly the author of this article has bought a licence.

    Get over yourself. The whole of Exchange is written using .NET. Great tracts of IIS (used by Web servers everywhere and in Microsoft's Azure) are written in .NET. Applications written using .NET can be run natively on 32-bit or 64-bit without any re-compilation saving developers massive amounts on testing. The whole systems management command line tools for Windows 2008 and later are written using .NET. Dark days indeed if this lot's going anywhere - but of course its not.

    Journalist should licensed before they are allowed to put pen to paper or finger keytop to stop this ludicrous commentary like this.

  19. AndyDent


    I always thought some of the inspiration had to come from Dave Cutler and the VMS common language environment, fond memories from the 80's...

    "OpenVMS itself is implemented in a variety of different languages (primarily BLISS, VAX Macro and C) (per comp.os.vms newsgroup postings from members of HP OpenVMS Engineering), and the common language environment and calling standard supports freely mixing these languages, and Ada, PL/I, Fortran, BASIC, and others. "

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's JavaScript, not Javascript

    It's not a huge deal, but why not spell names right when you publish an article? More and more people tend to write the sloppy "Javascript" or "javascript" or just"JS". But the correct spelling is "JavaScript", and The Reg should get things like that right.

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