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Enterprise Developers Stuck on .NET 4.0

by Jonathan Allen on Sep 27, 2013 |

Whenever a new version of the CLR is released, such as .NET 2.0 and 4.0, developers are understandably reluctant to upgrade. CLR updates bring subtle changes to the runtime behavior that can break pre-existing code. Examples of this include the disastrous DateTime.Kind property or making uncaught exceptions on background threads terminate the process.

Conversely, library-only updates tended to be accepted with open arms. While many developers were not exactly rushing to adopt .NET 3.0 or 3.5, they didn’t fear it either. They just casually picked it up when they happened across something that they needed.

For .NET 4.5 we aren’t seeing the same kind attitude towards adoption. After an informal poll the overwhelming reason for staying on .NET 4.0 was Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Though these decade old products are effectively at end-of-life, many companies are reluctant to leave them. Here are some of the quotes…

Pretty much all enterprise devs are stuck on 4.0 for a foreseeable future due to xp support.

We can't move to 4.5 due to needing to support XP for another few years due to clients not upgrading their out of date hardware. We still had users using NT a year into Vista being released.

GAH I'm stuck on 4.0 for Windows 2003 servers.

"Why spend money licensing on new OS when the old servers do what we need!" I'm told.

I do not agree with this assessment, but in small business, it's difficult to justify to the owner exactly what is wrong with .NET 4.0. There's nothing wrong with it. I don't think there's anything I can't do it it, unfortunately I'm stuck with doing things an older way.

One development team is working around this problem by removing the client OS from the picture.

We're addressing this by shifting more and more of the actual work to run on the server, leaving the client pretty thin with the eventual goal of eliminating a deployed client altogether in favor of running everything from the browser.

The other reason we’ve been hearing for staying on .NET 4.0 is the changes to Visual Studio interface. This next quote is not uncommon,

I'm stuck on .NET 4.0 due to 4.5 being tied to Visual Studio 2012. Me and my fellow developers really did not like VS 2012 interface. It looks like VS 2013 has improved though (not quite as flat and colorless as VS 2012), so perhaps we'll upgrade to that soon.

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Not quite by Lee H

Have to disagree with your opening statement
Whenever a new version of the CLR is released, such as .NET 2.0 and 4.0, developers are understandably reluctant to upgrade.

Almost every developer I've ever known can't wait to get their hands on 'new stuff' and start using it. Those that don't are basically saying that they've resigned themselves to the scrapheap of systems past.
The relevant issue is impressing on clients the need to be continually upgrading. The smallest clients seem to have no problem with this, it's the next level up I always have problems convincing.
Unfortunately the thing that convinces them most is something terrible like being hit by ransomware, or having a key system (i.e. single machine) fail.
I've quietly dumped clients who won't upgrade. They're paying for for my advice and experience, if they choose not to listen then that's their choice, but I don't want to be around to be blamed or held liable for a decision I had no part in.

The so called managers by Yang Xing

Actually the problem is those so called managers think they're better equipped to make technical decisions.

What the business needs by Daniel F

Why spend money licensing on new OS when the old servers do what we need


As technical leaders it's important for us to recognise the needs of the business and help make necessary trade-offs whilst educating the business leaders on the opportunities available to them. If the business is working great on an older technology and a pragmatic discussion weighing these trade-offs has occurred then we need to understand this and work with the decision.
Whilst staying on an older technology may not be the best thing for your career, it may be the best thing for the business.

Re: What the business needs by Yang Xing

There is no trade off here. This is the excuse that keeps a business to rack up more and more technical debt. Your business may seem to be doing well at the moment but without actively looking out for the opportunity to improve, the business will eventually lose out.

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