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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

WinFx is dead

From mdavey: Longhorn “Server Core” doesn’t have .NET? No managed code.

From the referenced article, Server Core Program Manager

(Andrew) Mason says his development team wants to add the .NET Framework to Server Core, but they first need the Framework team to modularize the code so they can add just the essentials.

Another example of the left-hand not being coordinated with the right. I know I’m mixing metaphors, but it has continued to baffle me that it is taking Microsoft so long to adopt managed code.

Now I think I understand why. And the WinFx to .NET 3.0 name change illustrates the point well:

  • WinFx was purported to be the new Windows API. This claim, while supported by various parts of Microsoft was never internalized by the product teams.
  • This is actually the message that was confusing people. Customers / developers were not asking “what is WinFx?”, as much as they were asking, “where is the new managed Windows API, WinFx?”.
  • But there is no managed Windows API. Managed code is not a core part of the OS (and may never be).
  • So, to avoid the topic, WinFx gets killed. Not just the name, but the entire idea of a managed Windows API. Sure, the components of WinFx get shifted to .NET 3.0.

I have posted before that I am OK with the name change. I am, but I am not OK with the death of the managed Windows API.

Now (of course) this blog is all my own opinion, but I want to point out that this is purely an outsiders view of what is going on at Microsoft. As far as I know I am completely mistaken and next week Microsoft will announce some new effort to provide a fully managed API. Or not.

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    John Powers wrote @ October 14th, 2006 at 8:40 am

Your comment that WinFX “…was never internalized by the product teams” is too polite.

This is a big, big deal, yet Microsoft continues to vacilate on this issue. I hear Microsoft execs stand up and proclaim that everything is .NET. Then I see product teams create products without the slightest nod to .NET, using a patchwork of unmanaged code and interfaces dating back to the (early) COM days.

I have heard people walking around Microsoft conferences saying out loud that .NET is dead. I have heard people walking around Microsoft conferences saying .NET 3.0 is the coolest thing ever. I have heard fence-sitting Corporate VPs at Microsoft proclaim that there’s a place for managed code and a place for unmanged code, that they love managed code but unmanaged code is “not going away any time soon — maybe ever.”

These Zen-like utterances are not followed up by any guidance as to where Microsoft (the whole company) thinks managed code is appropriate and where it’s inappropriate — and I fear that’s because they don’t know (yes, I mean that literally — as a company, if the disagreements go so deep that they can’t articulate a single clear position to the outside world, that means they don’t know).

And you are completely correct — there’s no doubt that “Microsoft” (i.e., some part of Microsoft) will proclaim that Windows has a “fully managed API” and it will have some witty name. But that doesn’t make it true.

    Expert Texture » Blog Archive » WinFx is Dead Part 2 wrote @ October 16th, 2006 at 4:48 am

[...] After I posted WinFx is Dead, I’ve gotten two kinds of comments:  Didn’t you hear that WinFx has been renamed .NET 3.0?  What rock have you been hiding under? [...]

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