State of the Microsoft Union: Should You Care?

02 May 2016

Two years ago, Microsoft's new CEO, Satya Nadella, began taking Microsoft in a new direction. That direction included becoming a true cross-platform software company, embracing open source and focusing heavily on the cloud. With the new release of it's .NET Framework and associated development tools, Microsoft has begun delivering on its promised overhaul.

But here’s the question: should you care?

I think the answer is a resounding yes.

By embracing cross platform, Microsoft is competitive again in the application development space. It is broadening its appeal beyond just Windows-based platforms. And, for those of you invested in the .NET framework, these changes ensure Microsoft’s relevancy for years to come.

I can say with certainty that Visual Studio is one best development environments around. The ability for developers to build cross platform applications in the Visual Studio environment is exciting. With one tool set, efficiencies can be found and errors can decrease. Integration headaches become fewer and training and hiring for skills becomes more focused.

On the technology side of things, true cross platform development and execution is made possible by the new DNX execution platform. ASP.NET has dropped its old HTTP pipeline in favor of an OWIN standards based pipeline. It is now possible to compile a web application in Visual Studio 2015 and deploy and execute it on any combination of Windows, Linux, and OSX servers. And as of 2015, as Microsoft supports a true cross platform development platform, Visual Studio Code, though with only a small subset of functionality of the full blown Windows-based IDE.

In addition, Microsoft has enthusiastically embraced the cloud, especially its own flagship Azure Services. The new .NET Core libraries have been refactored into smaller, less dependent components that improve cloud footprints. Visual Studio 2015 comes with strong support for Microsoft's flagship Azure Service cloud services – a cloud service that is proving itself with barn-burning speed.

As with all big changes, there are some things to watch out for.  While the new framework means more versatility, it is not always as intuitive as it may first seem. Plus, for the first time since .NET was released, the new version is not backward compatible with previous versions of the platform. There is no clear port strategy. Like many technology transitions, existing clients using the .NET framework will need to evaluate their Roadmap moving forward.

All of these steps are steps in the right direction. Microsoft needs to deliver richer DevOps features for the cloud. And, while, there is a steep learning curve in the new .NET framework, the cloud-friendly opportunities outweigh the initial start up costs.

What are your thoughts? Are these changes exciting or a burden?

P.S. for you job-seekers out there: # 1 requested skill set in Robert Half technologies is a .NET developer who knows Angular.

P.P.S Spitfire is sponsoring the next Visual Studio User Group on May 23, 2016 – hope to see you there.


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