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Microsoft OracleClient Deprecated

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Microsoft announced System.Data.OracleClient will be deprecated after .NET 4.0. Classes in the namespace will be marked obsolete in .NET 4.0 and removed from future releases. OracleClient is the ADO.NET provider for Oracle developed by Microsoft and shipped as part of the .NET Framework Class Library.

This decision has sparked controversy among the community of .NET developers working with Oracle. While many enterprise .NET applications use a 3rd party Oracle provider, System.Data.OracleClient is often used in small applications and typically has better integration with other Microsoft tools.

Microsoft insists this decision was made after much deliberation and research:

After carefully considering all the options and talking to our customers, partners, and MVPs it was decided to deprecate OracleClient as a part of our ADO.NET roadmap.

Part of the reasoning for this decision is the increasingly availability and improvements of 3rd party ADO.NET data providers for Oracle. There have been significant performance improvements and enhanced multi-version compatibility among the popular Oracle providers:

Despite the community backlash, Microsoft has shown no signs of reversing the decision, and none should be expected. Microsoft's official line is that "many of the third party providers are able to consistently provide the same level of quality and support that customers have come to expect from Microsoft." Therefore, it's not worth the investment to bring OracleClient up to parity with the third party providers, and this frees MS resources to focus on ADO.NET.

Some are calling this move an underhanded strike to raise the bar for .NET development against Oracle, but many are viewing this decision with a guarded optimism that Microsoft might be rethinking its not-invented-here bias. For example, it is a common complaint among the ALT.NET crowd that Microsoft reinvents the wheel for no reason, creating their own versions of products when good alternatives already exist. See MSTest vs. NUnit or Entity Framework vs. NHibernate. In the context of recent decisions to officially support jQuery and provide the source code for ASP.NET MVC, this decision could be interpreted as Microsoft further admitting that it doesn't need to control the entire stack; they can rely on their partners and the community to provide some pieces.

Also, the Connected Show Podcast has an episode discussing this move and examining why it's not a disaster.


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