Microsoft rebrands WinFX as .Net Framework 3.0

Aim is to give product a higher profile. Paul Krill reports

Just prior to Microsoft Tech Ed 2006 in Boston, Microsoft announced it would change the name of WinFX to .Net Framework 3.0. It’s planned for inclusion in Windows Vista, due out in early 2007. The framework features the Windows Communication Foundation web services platform; Windows Presentation Foundation presentation layer technology; Windows Workflow and the newly renamed Windows CardSpace, for identity management. CardSpace had been codenamed InfoCard. Current .Net Framework 2.0 technologies, such as the CLR (Common Language Runtime), are also part of .Net Framework 3.0.

“The .Net Framework has always been at the core of WinFX, but the WinFX brand didn’t convey this,” says Soma Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s developer division.

“The WinFX brand helped us introduce the incredible innovations,” for workflow, web services and other new technologies, says Somasegar. However, the WinFX brand “also created an unnatural discontinuity between previous versions of our framework and the current version. With this in mind we have decided to rename WinFX to the .Net Framework 3.0. [The] .Net Framework 3.0 aptly identifies the technology for exactly what it is — the next version of our developer framework,” Somasegar says.

Microsoft is making the right move with the rebranding, says Chris Howard, an analyst at Burton Group. “I think it’s a good idea because .Net has good traction in the developer community,” he says. “In the past, Microsoft had problems [similar to] other companies with lots of branding. They need to consolidate those brandings under larger umbrellas.”

Early, prerelease versions of .Net Framework 3.0 technologies have been available for some time. “I would say the big advantage of the WinFX stuff is that it raises the level of abstraction for programmers and makes it easier to do complex things,” such as web services and building of UIs, says Howard.

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