In the summer of 2016, Microsoft turned heads with the release of .NET Core – a free, open source version of its mega-popular programming productivity tools that work on Windows, Mac, and even Linux.
It was a surprising move, to say the least. Since 2002, Microsoft had pushed .NET (and the related ASP.NET technology) as the premiere way to build software, particularly business software. And it was only available on Windows. It was just another way that Microsoft leveraged its power to keep Windows at the center of the universe.
So the release of .NET Core was met with great interest. The free Linux operating system never found tremendous support on the consumer PC, but it’s a major standard on servers and in data centers everywhere. With .NET Core, the worlds of Windows and Linux can come a little closer together. Even Google has signed on to help shepherd .NET Core into this future.
Today, .NET Core takes another big step forward with the release of version 2.0. This new update adds a bunch of technology from the standard version of .NET, bringing the younger offshoot closer to parity with the original model. Plus, it brings some boosts to performance and security.
The general mission, says Microsoft Director of Program Management and .NET Core lead Scott Hunter, is to spread .NET everywhere and anywhere. That’s important, amid mounting competition from the likes of Oracle’s Java frameworks. Hunter says that .NET Core represents a “revival of .NET’ that keeps it relevant.
“We kinda notched off all the reasons you wouldn’t use .NET,” says Hunter.
Gotta go fast
Microsoft .NET is what’s called an application framework. It basically provides a simplified, streamlined set of tools for writing code, such that .NET takes care of a lot of the hard parts, including security. The promise of .NET is that you can write more code, more quickly and securely.
Because .NET Core is open source, it means that anybody, anywhere can download it and tweak it to their heart’s content. With Microsoft’s backing, and its blessing, .NET developers from all around the world have contributed fixes and improvements that the tech titan simply didn’t have the manpower to address in-house.
“Being open source, we’re seeing a lot of the [performance] changes over the last year have come from the community,” says Hunter.
It means that .NET Core is actually getting better, faster, than the legacy .NET Standard. Lots of customers will still want to stay on .NET Standard, simply because it’s older and more mature and thus not worth the effort of replacing with the newer variant. For those who want to be on the cutting edge, though, .NET Core is there.
“As a customer, you will see us move faster with .NET Core,” says Hunter.
That speed is something that appeals to John-Daniel Trask, the CEO of bug-testing software company Raygun.
Trask’s team has been using .NET since Raygun’s inception in 2010, but moved a chunk of its systems to .NET Core early on in its availability. Now, Raygun has expanded its usage of .NET to include its Linux servers, by way of Core. And he says that Raygun is reaping the benefits of that speed and not looking back.
“It feels to me like it’s getting clearer and easier every few weeks,” says Trask.