.NET 3.5 Client Product Roadmap

A few months ago I did a .NET Web Product Roadmap blog post where I outlined some of the product plans we have to build on top of the web development features we’ve shipped with Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5.

Over the next few months we will also be releasing a number of enhancements specific to client development as well.  We have put a lot of effort into addressing some of the biggest areas of customer feedback, while also trying to really push the envelope on the capabilities developers have when building Windows applications. All of these improvements build on top of VS 2008 and .NET 3.5, and will make .NET client development even better going forward. Below is a roadmap of some of the upcoming releases we have planned for the months ahead:

Improved .NET Framework Setup for Client Applications

One of the biggest asks we’ve had over the years from customers and ISVs building client applications is to make the setup and installation of the .NET Framework easier and faster.

This summer we are going to ship a new setup framework for .NET that makes it easier to build optimized setup packages for client applications. This setup framework can be integrated with existing installation frameworks (for example: products like InstallShield), and enables a smaller and faster end-user setup experience of the .NET Framework.

Windows Forms and WPF client applications will be able to use this setup framework to cleanly “bootstrap” getting the .NET Framework installed onto machines. The setup “bootstrap” utility will support automatically downloading the minimal set of .NET Framework packages needed to enable .NET 3.5 client applications on a machine. For example, if a user already has .NET 2.0 installed on their machine, setup will be smart enough to automatically download only the upgrade patches necessary to update .NET 2.0 to 3.5 (and not have to re-download the components already provided by .NET 2.0). This will significantly shrink the payload size of client setup programs, and speed up the installation experience.

We’ll also be delivering improvements that enable a more integrated application install experience for both MSI and ClickOnce based solutions, and support a more consumer friendly user experience that is easy to build.

Improved Working Set and Startup Improvements for .NET Client Applications

One of the other common asks we receive is to enable .NET client applications to launch faster in “cold startup” scenarios. “Cold startup” scenarios occur when no other .NET client applications are running (or have recently run) on a machine, and require the OS to load lots of pages (code, static data, registry, etc) from disk. If you are loading a large .NET client application or library, or are using a slow disk, these cold startup scenarios can require many seconds for your application to start.

This summer we are going to ship a servicing update to the CLR that makes some significant internal optimizations in how we optimize our data structures to cut down on disk IO and improve memory layout when loading and running applications. Among many other benefits, this work will significantly improve the working set and cold startup performance of .NET 2.0, 3.0 and 3.5 applications and will dramatically improve end-user experiences with .NET-based client applications.

Depending on the size of the application, we expect .NET applications to realize a cold startup performance improvement of between 25-40%. Applications do not need to change any code, nor be recompiled, in order to take advantage of these improvements so the benefits are automatic.

WPF Performance Improvements

This summer we are also planning to release a servicing update to WPF that includes a bunch of performance optimizations that improve its text, graphics, media and data stack. These include:

– Moving the DropShadow and Blur bitmap effects, which are currently software rendered, to be hardware accelerated (making them many times faster). The APIs for these effects will stay the same as they are today (which means you do not need to change any code nor recompile your apps to take advantage of these improvements).

– Text scenarios, especially when used in Visual and DrawingBrush scenarios, will be substantially faster. The APIs for these scenarios also stay the same (which means you do not need to change any code nor recompile to take advantage of the performance improvements).

– Media and video performance scenarios will also be much faster (also no need to change any code nor recompile to take advantage of the improvements).

– We’ll be including a new WriteableBitmap API that enables real-time bitmap updates from a software surface. We’ll also be adding support for a powerful new effects API that enables you to build richer graphics scenarios.

– We’ll also be including new data scalability improvements that can be leveraged for data editing scenarios. These include container recycling and data virtualization support that make it easier to build richer data visualization controls.

WPF Control Improvements

Later this year we are also planning to release a number of new controls for WPF.  Included in the list we are working on are DataGrid, Ribbon, and Calendar/DatePicker controls.

VS 2008 WPF Designer Improvements

We are also planning to release a servicing update of VS 2008 that includes a number of feature additions to its WPF designer. These include event tab support within the property grid for control events, toolbox support within source mode, and a variety of other common asks and improvements.

Summary

The above improvements should make it easier to build great desktop applications. Because these improvements are built on top of VS 2008 and .NET 3.5, they will also be easy to take advantage of (and in most scenarios not require any code changes to take advantage of them). Stay tuned to my blog for more details about each of the above improvements in the weeks ahead.

Hope this helps,

Scott


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