.NET Framework is dead -- long live .NET 5
Microsoft may not have said it out loud, but it's become increasingly clear over the past couple of years that .NET Framework is on its way out. With the software giant focusing most of its attention of making .NET Core faster and beefier, its longstanding predecessor has been slowly neglected, receiving only smaller changes every now and then.
While some have argued that .NET Framework is not dead, being the only framework in Microsoft's .NET family to support desktop applications, it was only a matter of time before its younger brother would be ready to replace it. And it looks like that's going to (finally) happen this summer, when .NET Core 3.0 launches. So, now, Microsoft is bracing developers for the inevitable -- .NET Framework will indeed be put out to pasture.
"With the .NET Core 3.0 release in September 2019 we think that all *new* .NET applications should be based on .NET Core. The primary application types from .NET Framework are supported, and where we did not port something over there is a recommended modern replacement. All future investment in .NET will be in .NET Core," says Microsoft. ".NET Framework 4.8 will be the last major version of .NET Framework."
In typical Microsoft fashion, it will not actually go away for good, as the software giant will continue to support .NET Framework for many years to come. The framework is the backbone of many important applications, especially in the enterprise market. It also underpins Visual Studio, the IDE that Microsoft offers to .NET Framework and .NET Core developers, and "much of Windows" -- and that last part is why it will continue to live on for quite some time in the background -- at least until Microsoft can move away from it.
What's going to happen going forward is quite interesting, because what follows after .NET Core 3.0 will not be .NET Core 4.0 but rather .NET 5. Yes, Microsoft is making yet another change in the ecosystem, making it clear that there will only be one .NET framework going forward for everyone to use in future apps. And if you're wondering why it's not called .NET 4, well, that's because it would be too similar to .NET Framework 4 in name, which has been around for quite a few years now.
The upcoming release will arrive sometime in late-2020, says Microsoft, and it will bring a slew of changes with it. As the evolution of .NET Core, .NET 5 will of course be cross-platform and offer what you would expect from .NET Core 3.0, but also make it better suited for Internet of Things and mobile platform development.
Microsoft will move to a yearly release cycle, to make things more predictable for developers. Smaller versions will likely be offered, if needed, and odd major versions will get the LTS (long term support) treatment. Currently, the LTS release in the .NET Core family is version 2.1. The next will be .NET Core 3.1, which is slated to arrive this November. The one after that will be .NET Core 6, which is expected to arrive two years after, in November 2021.
There are still some unknowns at this stage with regards to how things will change for .NET developers, but there is plenty of time for Microsoft to make things clear, receive feedback on the many changes it plans to introduce and figure out what the best ways to proceed are. For one, it seems like a long overdue move. Yes, it may ruffle some feathers, but the benefits that Microsoft promises to bring and the potential that .NET 5 has to offer should make it a pretty popular choice with developers.