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.NET 3.0: What it is and what it means for developers

Developing for Vista means using .NET 3.0. A recent article from MSDN covers deployment and installation of this new framework so developers can hit the ground running.

On the eve of Tech Ed 2006, Microsoft changed the name of its next-generation managed-code programming model from WinFX to .NET 3.0. The entirety of the .NET Framework 2.0 is retained in .NET 3.0, while what was WinFX -- Windows Communication Foundation, Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Workflow Foundation and Windows CardSpace (a.k.a. InfoCard) -- sits alongside ASP.NET 2.0 and Windows Forms 2.0 in the Systems namespace.

Unlike most Microsoft name changes, the .NET 3.0 move has prompted a mixed response (as opposed to the outright criticism stemming from the loss of elegant names like Avalon, Indigo and Sparkle). Some viewers deem the name change confusing, while others think it makes perfect sense.

More on .NET 3.0

.NET 3.0: Major version or major confusion?

Windows Presentation Foundation Learning Guide

Windows Communication Foundation Learning Guide

Windows Workflow Foundation Learning Guide

Names aside, it's important to remember that .NET 3.0 and Windows Vista are meant to go hand in hand. .NET 3.0 will run on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, but some of its best features -- building customizable "UI ribbons" for Office 2007 applications or desktop widgets and sidebars -- only run in Vista.

To that end, MSDN has published a reference, Deploying Microsoft .NET Framework Version 3.0, which covers the .NET 3.0 installation and deployment processes. The article also provides tips for running the .NET Framework 3.0 Redistributable installation program and lists a few errors that may come up during that process.

Along with "how-to" help and code snippets, the article provides a bit of perspective on the future of .NET 2.0 and .NET 3.0. Given that the two versions of the framework are so closely related, it should come as no surprise that compatibility is a key to Microsoft's strategy.

As Annie Wang writes:

Because .NET Framework 3.0 is an additive release and uses the core run-time components from .NET Framework 2.0, it is completely backward compatible with the earlier version. Your existing .NET Framework 2.0 based-applications will continue to run without any modifications and you can safely continue your investments using the technologies that shipped with .NET Framework 2.0….Microsoft will continue to service .NET Framework 2.0 release in accordance with the standard support policy for the platforms it is supported on. Users who currently rely on .NET Framework 2.0 have the option of remaining on that version of the .NET Framework and receiving software updates as they become available.

The official releases of Windows Vista, Office 12 and .NET 3.0 are still a few months away. Stay tuned for additional updates and tips for putting it all together. And if you have any .NET 3.0 resources you'd like to share, send them to me and I'll post them here.

Dig Deeper on .NET Framework 3.0 design and architecture tools

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