The Road Ahead for Microsoft .NET
Today’s developers face many challenges as they try to keep up with the multitude of technologies and frameworks across platforms and infrastructures. To make things easier, Microsoft has laid-out a vision for a unified .NET Stack and Ecosystem. This new stack will allow developers to face these challenges using a common set of APIs, languages, and tools. It is possible to target the broad set of platforms using .NET, but the APIs, tooling, and release schedules for each platform are not always consistent, nor do they offer the same level of functionality.
Microsoft’s vision of a unified .NET will be delivered in two phases: Net 5—which is the next release of .NET Core—was released in November 2020, and .NET 6 will be coming in November 2021. Before we examine the key enhancements for .NET 5, let’s revisit the state of .NET 4.x. Microsoft announced that .NET 4.8 would be the last version to support the .NET Framework. .NET 4.8 will have long-term support and will continue to be shipped as part of the Windows operating system. This was a wise decision as it gives developers time to either upgrade their current .NET Framework-based applications to .NET 5 or sunset those applications over time. Even though .NET 4.8 will be supported for years to come, it is still critical for developers to start learning .NET 5 today and understand the wealth of new opportunities it provides.
.NET 5 is a huge milestone release for Microsoft’s unified vision for the .NET platform. It includes several improvements over .NET Core 3.1 and sets up the road ahead for what is coming in .NET 6. As with .NET Core, one key aspect of .NET 5 is support for running your .NET programs across multiple hosts—including Windows, macOS, and Linux—for x86, x64, Arm32 and Arm64 based processors.
Included in the .NET 5 release is a new version of ASP.NET Core, EF Core, C# 9 and F# 5. The following are the key highlights for this release. The full list of changes may be found here.
- New languages improvements for C# 9: Init-Only Properties, new record class definition, and simplified top level programs.
- New language improvements for F# 5: Interactive programming and performance enhancements for function programing.
- Performance enhancements for .NET libraries: JSON Serialization using Text.Json, regular expressions, and HTTP enhancements for HTTP 1.1 and HTTP/2.
- Significant performance enhancements for using .NET-based gRPC based services.
- New platforms supported: Windows Arm64 and WebAssembly.
It is certainly an exciting time to be working with the Microsoft platform with the release of .NET 5. Microsoft’s vision of a unified .NET platform is just beginning. Soon, the development cycle for .NET 6 will kick into high gear. .NET 6 is targeted for release in November 2021 and will be focused on the new unified Multi-platform App UI (MAUI). MAUI is an exciting new technology that will include native UI controls for desktop and mobile devices. No matter if you are a frontend, backend or full-stack developer, .NET has become a powerful toolkit for building amazing solutions for Windows, Linux, and beyond.
Finally, if you have any questions about the new .NET Stack and Ecosystem, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to help you get started.