Dumping .NET - Microsoft's Madness
Written by Mike James   
Saturday, 11 June 2011
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Dumping .NET - Microsoft's Madness
Windows 8

Windows 8

Windows 8 is going to have a tile-based UI, copying the look and functionality of Windows Phone 7. This is a good move - or it would be if the tile-based "Metro" look was actually stylish. To my eye it looks clunky and a complete mess but there are people who disagree.

It doesn't really matter because the issue of the Windows 8 interface isn't really about the type of application that can run in a "live tile". Choosing to focus on the JavaScript app is a completely separate decision. After all Silverlight is just fine in the touch-based environment of Windows Phone 7 - so why not make it the main technology for Window 8?



A recent  press release:describes the new interface in glowing terms but the key item for developers is:

Web-connected and Web-powered apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript that have access to the full power of the PC.

To try and reassure developers that commitment to old technology is still there we have:

We also showed effortless movement between existing Windows programs and new Windows 8 apps. The full capabilities of Windows continue to be available to you, including the Windows Explorer and Desktop, as does compatibility with all Windows 7 logo PCs, software and peripherals.


Not really.

Backward compatible

The point isn't backward compatibility - the loss of which would make Windows into something that was no longer Windows and would be even crazier than the current plans.

It should come as no surprise to any developer that Microsoft are not going to dismantle the infrastructure needed to run old fashioned Window apps. What really cuts deep is that I am already referring to them as "old fashioned Windows apps". How can you get anyone excited about an app that is based on last year's technology. Where we once enthused about WPF and then Silverlight it is going to be HTML5 and JavaScript on the front page making headlines.

Our .NET technology might be supported in some sort of backward compatible mode but it clearly isn't going forward anymore.

The final madness

I find that I have already made frequent use of "insane" and "insanity", but I need a stronger term for the final part of the deal - JavaScript.

As it happens I'm a great JavaScript fan and have been for some time. It makes a really nice change from other languages - it's fun, it's clever and rewarding but it simply isn't in the same league as C# or Java or...

So how crazy is it to bet the entire company on it's use?

Now it might be that Microsoft has some technology up its sleeve such as a C# to JavaScript cross compiler or something similar, but if it has it's keeping it very, very, under wraps. In fact the vagueness and silences coming out of Redmond suggest that they really don't have a "big idea" apart from the one that they have placed on the table - use JavaScript!

This whole situation couldn't have come at a worse time. In the opinion of many Java is compromised by being mismanaged by Oracle. and now the .Net language are being sidelined in favour of an idiosyncratic language that until recently wasn't even considered for writing an a complete application.

Many are already jumping ship but to go to what?

The only credible language that remains is C/C++ as it is what most of the systems, including the mobile system we use, are built with.

Not only am I avoiding using WPF for future projects I have been seriously considering going back to C++.


This is a long and complicated argument, so to summarize:

  • Windows 8 is making a big thing of HTML5/JavaScript apps but most apps run on specific platforms and are not JavaScript based. Windows 8 could launch without much running on it but "legacy apps".
  • Making Windows apps JavaScript apps makes Windows just the same as all the other platforms that can run JavaScript - why do I need to stick with Windows? 
  • Silverlight is "Windows in a browser" and is probably the solution Microsoft is looking for - it's powerful and gives them an edge that others just don't have.
  • JavaScript is fun but it's primitive compared to C# or Java and it will take time to develop tools that make it all work - assuming it can be made to work.
  • Adopting JavaScript as the development language for Windows 8 is a huge step backwards in terms of available technologies such as Linq, 3D graphics, Entity Framework etc.
  • If Silverlight is good enough for the touch environment of Windows Phone 7 why isn't it the development environment for Windows 8?

The more you think about it all the more you have to come to the conclusion that something doesn't "smell right" in the jargon of the agile fraternity.

Why is it we are the only ones who notice it so clearly?

Of course Microsoft almost certainly thinks that we are just complaining about having to change what we know and what we have invested years learning. After all its a very similar reaction to what they got when they forced .NET on the Windows programming community. The difference is that .NET was progressive - HTML5/JavaScript is regressive.

I can only hope that Microsoft has some ingenious plan that it will reveal to make it all right - but somehow I doubt it.

Further Reading


Not Dumping .NET - Microsoft's Method

Silverlight 5 Beta announced

Silverlight is alive and well

Silverlight is dead, long live Silverlight?

Windows and .NET - the coming storm

WPF & Silverlight at risk from Microsoft's passion for HTML5

Silverlight better than HTML5?

Classic VB is 20 and still missed by many


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