This past year has been momentous for .NET developers. Here are some of the milestones and maladies we’ve witnessed."
Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Ships: In February, Microsoft announced that there would be a service pack for Visual Studio 2005. In December, it shipped, fixing a number of critical flaws.
The Weak Connection Between Windows Vista and the Microsoft .NET Framework: In March, Richard Grimes noted that Vista, Microsoft’s “rewrite” of the Windows OS, certainly didn’t seem to be using very much .NET, leading to the inaccurate speculation that Microsoft has abandoned the .NET Framework. Releases of other Microsoft products (e.g., Customer Relationship Management—CRM, Office SharePoint Server 2007) do show that Microsoft is doing lots of product development in .NET, but when Vista shipped in November, it did confirm the speculation that the OS has yet to find a ton of use for it.
“Free” Is a Very Good Price: As the virtualization wars started heating up, Microsoft announced that it would start giving Virtual Server 2005 away for free.
SQL Server 2005 Everywhere Compact Edition: In April, Microsoft announced that it would start shipping yet another database. Microsoft Access was too crufty for developers, SQL Server 2005 (even the Express Edition) was too big, so maybe SQL Server Everywhere Edition would be just right. This in-memory database engine, designed for local data storage, will use a file-based database and a subset of the SQL Server data types. Microsoft eventually came to the obvious realization that SQL Everywhere was trademarked by Sybase, so it changed the name to SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition.
Maybe Projects Weren’t Such a Bad Idea: Microsoft shipped Visual Studio 2005 using a new paradigm for Web development that eschewed project systems and instead relied on a simple pile of files. The result was an overnight transformation of ASP.NET developers from productive coders to a pitchfork and torch wielding mob. Realizing the misstep and fearing for the safety of his team, Scott Guthrie released the Visual Studio 2005 Web Application Project system.
One Huge Honk’n Wiki: Microsoft announced its plot to make the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) one huge honk’n Wiki. In December, the MSDN Wiki went live.
An Unlikely Coincidence: In a pair of events that Microsoft still dismisses as coincidence, Robert Scoble and Bill Gates both announced they’re stepping down. Microsoft insists their departures will have no effect on the company, but then announces it’s shifting its focus to Legos because they “Make Ballmer giggle.”
Visual Basic (VB) 6.0, Not Gone and Not Forgotten: Noticing that there’s still enough VB 6.0 developers to fill a major metropolitan area, Microsoft starts to show them some love with the Visual Basic 2005 Power Packs, which are designed specifically to address VB 6.0 developer pain points on .NET.
Google Launches New Spreadsheet and Code Search Programs: Google debuts a spreadsheet application that serves as the poster child for applications that you just shouldn’t try. Google also debuts a code search, which I never remember when I’m looking for a code example.
I May Never Upgrade My Wife to Office 2007: The new version of Office uses a file format that’s incompatible with previous versions. To ease the pain, Microsoft has shipped the Office Compatibility Pack to let old versions of Office open and edit the new documents.
Internet Explorer (IE) 7.0 Ships: Now that it’s out, no one will remember that it took Microsoft 5 years to master tabbed browsing and popup blocking.
Imagine What They Could Do With Another 4MB: Microsoft sucked up the Sysinternals suite and made it available for free download. The whole thing is only 8MB.
It Was Easier to Just Build Images Than Write the Install Guides: In December, Microsoft made a number of preconfigured Virtual PC images available for free download.
Vista Ships: If you’ve written an application for Windows, there’s a reasonable chance that it won’t run on Vista.
The .NET Framework 3.0 Ships: Microsoft renamed WinFx to the .NET Framework 3.0, a move roundly criticized because the .NET Framework 3.0 actually installs the .NET Framework 2.0, then tacks on some new class libraries. The .NET Framework also includes Windows Communications Foundation, Windows Workflow Foundation, and Windows Presentation Foundation. You’ll have to wait until the Orcas release of Visual Studio to get full development support. Rumor is Orcas will ship in 2008. Darn. I was really hoping to include it in the 2007 year-end roundup.