Microsoft updates .Net but forgets community spirit

April saw Microsoft release the latest version of the .Net Framework. The software framework—which enables developers to create applications featuring several programming languages—saw several User Interface and security upgrades.

The rollout comes on the 15th anniversary since .Net debuted to the world, and while its developers were keen to look towards the future, some users questioned how much Microsoft was embracing Open Source.

Released as part of its Windows Creator Update, Version 4.7—the first update in nine months and  quietly announced sans preview—comes packed with a number of new User Interface and security features as well as the expected performance and reliability improvements.

Certificate management is now more secure

New features include touch support for Windows 10 applications running Microsoft's UI builder Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), and high-DPI support for Windows Forms applications on Windows 10 (enabling higher resolution icons and text but also the ability to respond to screen resolution changes).

On the security side, certificate management is now more secure and easier thanks to the ability to sign ClickOnce manifest files with a Hardware Security Module (HSM) in the Manifest Generation and Editing Tool (Mage.exe), and there is also enhanced cryptography support. Microsoft also announced a new .Net API Browser which allows users to search through Microsoft’s list of Microsoft-managed .Net-based APIs.

Future strategy & community

In a recent company blog about the company’s strategy for the main .Net languages, Microsoft’s C# Program Manager Mads Torgersen promised language and performance improvements for C#, that Visual Basic will remain straightforward and approachable, while for F# the company wants to better enable and encourage strong community participation.

But while Microsoft Open-Sourced .Net back in 2014 as part of CEO Satya Nadella’s push to embrace Open Source, the company seems to be still getting used to the idea of community spirit. Microsoft may have announced a new approach to documentation which the company claims looks better and is easier to read and navigate, but the company was ridiculed nonetheless for its lack of openness over the framework’s development.

.Net users have no idea what is going on

The framework’s developers were quizzed in the comments section of the update announcement blog about the lack of preview or Beta. One complaint that users “have zero idea what is going on with .Net at any given point in time,” prompted Microsoft program manager Richard Lander to admit that “communication could be a lot better.” 

To his credit, Lander personally replied to a large number of comments and also updated the blog with new details to reflect user’s questions. It’s still a way off Linux founder Linus Torvalds’s brutally honest and often sweary update newsletters, but it’s a start. 

 
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