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Microsoft's Plans for the Future of .NET

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Microsoft's Mads Torgersen has shared an updated strategy for the .NET family of languages, providing insight into the comapny's thinking for future functionality.  Although the development of C#, VB .NET, and F# happens in public over GitHub, Microsoft’s long-term plans have frequently been kept private.  Torgersen's announcement is useful in that Microsoft's current way of thinking is now available for public review and commentary.

Torgersen notes that according to StackOverflow, only Python and C# are both found on the top ten lists for most used and most loved programming languages.  C# is used in a wide variety of application types:  business, gaming, and web, among several others.  Recognizing this, Microsoft wants C#’s design to “innovate aggressively, while being very careful to stay within the spirit of the language”.  Another aspect of this is to support all of C#'s various platforms, so that one is not emphasized at the expense of others.

When it comes to Visual Basic, its user base is not as large as C#, but that user base does have a larger percentage of new developers than C#.  Since Visual Basic has a smaller, more inexperienced developer base in Microsoft’s eyes, future design plans are going to see VB decoupled from C#’s design.  VB will add new language features where it makes sense for that language, rather than merely add them because C# is getting something similar.  That said, Torgersen says Microsoft will continue to maintain it as a first-class citizen on .NET which remains welcoming to new developers.

Of the three languages mentioned, F# has the smallest user base, but it is one that is very passionate about the language.  Torgersen says that Microsoft intends to “make F# the best-tooled functional language on the market” while ensuring it interoperates well with C# where appropriate. 

Reader commentary on this announcement is mixed.  F# and C# developers are mostly happy as their languages will continue to be considered in a place of prominence.  VB developers are more concerned that their language will be left behind or stagnate.  However Torgersen insists that VB will continue to be a point of investment for Microsoft.

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