Why Vista Matters to Developers
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To some, Windows Vista is Microsoft's most secure operating system ever. To others, it's the most Mac-like. But from a developer standpoint, it's the first proving ground for Microsoft's new family of managed programming interfaces that have been under development for the past five years.
As far back as October 2003 at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, the Microsoft message about the upcoming operating systemthen known as Longhornwas that the platform would have a heavy developer focus.
Microsoft set out to "renew the developer opportunity" with the new operating system, which meant making native Win32 API improvements that developers had been asking for, as well as adding a new, managed API set that went deep with presentation, communications and other support, said Jim Allchin, former co-president of the Redmond, Wash., company's Platforms & Services Division.
That API set, which was initially known as WinFX and later became .Net Framework 3.0, consists of Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF, formerly known as Avalon), Windows Communication Foundation (WCF, formerly known as Indigo), Windows Workflow Foundation and CardSpace (formerly known as InfoCard).
With Microsoft telegraphing its developer story for Vista so early and releasing .Net Framework 3.0 for use with Windows XP, some might view the launch of Vista as anticlimactic. But to look at it that way would miss the bigger phenomenon, which is that all of these .Net Framework 3.0 technologies are included with and installed by default with Vista, rather than requiring separate downloads and installs, said Andrew Brust, chief of new technology at Twentysix New York, a business solutions provider based in New York.
"Perhaps even more profound, if somewhat less groundbreaking, is that the .Net Framework 2.0on which 3.0 sitsis also included, thus making Vista the first version of Windows that ships ready-to-run .Net ClickOnce Smart Client applications and any other .Net application," Brust said. "That's big news. Since .Net apps, when shipped without the framework, can be extremely small, the release of Vista makes it possible for .Net apps to ship as casually as Visual Basic apps could years ago once the VB run-time started shipping as part of Windows."
Not only is that big news for .Net developers, it's also noteworthy for developers on competing platforms, Brust said.
A major part of that enhanced developer experience delivered in Vista comes from WPF, developers said.
"Vista is all about Avalon," said Stephen Forte, chief technology officer at Corzen, in New York. "I refuse to call it whatever its marketing name is," said Forte, who, as a Microsoft regional director, has known the technology since its early days under its code name. "So building Windows applications just got easier and much more exciting," Forte said.