I ran across a petition today to ask Microsoft to reverse it's naming decision regarding WinFX and .NET 3.0. You can read more about the change on my previous post.
Now, when I wrote about the name change, I tried to stay neutral in my announcement. But this time I'm coming out of the closet on the issue...
What's in a name? What's in a version number? Hopefully, information. This is the reason I signed the petition - .NET 3.0 doesn't communicate what is going on. The petition itself goes over the issues quite well, but let me emphasize my main complaint...
The .NET Framework is, to me, like the base operating system for application developers. The runtime engine and base class libraries (BCL) represent the most fundamental component of the platform.
When you create new foundations, to use Microsoft's other naming change** (gaff?), such as the Windows Presentation Foundation (aka Avalon), you are creating a new technology that leverages the framework.
When you start to collect these new foundations together, you notice that what you have is not a next generation of the .NET framework, but the successor to Win32!
That is the communication of what is happening. It's not that Win32 is going away immediately*** It's obvious from the Win32 API design, as well as the fundamental technology (the C language), that Win32 is ready for a slow retirement. Thus the original name was perfect - WinFX.
Now, I'll grant that the current .NET Framework confuses the issue a bit. Besides just providing the BCL, it also provides APIs for talking to databases (ADO.NET) as well as the infrastructure for web programming (ASP.NET). However, rather than bundling WinFX into .NET, we should have moved them to WinFX.
Want a single download and install? Fine, I don't care - you probably want both bundled and separate installers for size anyway. Just don't confuse deployment with packaging!
Unfortunately, I think it's highly unlikely that this is going to be reversed with this release. But I do hold out hope that Microsoft realizes the missed opportunity and changes it soon.
** Given my rant on the .NET name change, you might be surprised that it's not what I consider the worst one done recently. As part of Avalon/WPF, Microsoft created a tool specifically for graphic designers - not programmers - to help give that extra shine to applications. The tool was called Sparkle, and the name was perfect. Remember, the target audience for this app is graphic designers, NOT PROGRAMMERS. So, what did Microsoft Marketing renaming it to? Microsoft Expression Interactive Designer. I could just cry...
*** To give an idea of how long it can take for these older APIs to go away, consider Win16 - introduced when Windows itself was first released. Do you know what version Microsoft dropped support for Win16? Believe it or not, it won't go away until we have all moved to Windows Vista 64-bit, or it's successor! That's a long tail-off for an API that hasn't been used in a decade.