Time To Leave the .NET 3.5 Behind

by Dmitry Kirsanov 24. September 2012 08:32

For some software companies, the .NET Framework 3.5 is the current production version. However, it was also very problematic release because of the deployment issues. Windows Vista machines didn’t have it installed by default, so many companies continued to use 2.0 as much as they could, but then Windows 7 had it installed by default, so it became the new standard. But Windows 8 changed it all.

In Windows 8, the .NET Framework became the feature, just like it was in Windows Server 2008, but now it also became harder to install. While in some cases you just have to install the feature, by going to Settings\Control Panel\Programs\Turn Windows Features on or off, in some cases it just doesn’t work. Either it can’t find files (and they are not copied to your hard drive during the installation, as it was in Windows Server 2008) or the checksum of files will not match the one from the original media.

I’ve seen quite funny situation, when using a simple command like this:
DISM /Online /Enable-Feature /FeatureName:NetFx3 /All /LimitAccess /Source:d:\sources\sxs
produces an error if you are using file share or mounted ISO file as the source, but if that’s the DVD that was actually used for installation and was produced from the mentioned ISO file – it works.

So my point is – you will have to collaborate closely with system administrators and will waste a lot of time in troubleshooting bugs you wouldn’t have if you would either target your application to another version of .NET framework or use another operating system.

If your application is aimed at normal users and not corporations, then you would have a good chance of people just getting tired of installation hassle and just switch to another product. Not an option, right? But two options still exist:

.NET 4.5

Shipped with Microsoft Visual Studio 2012, .NET Framework version 4.5 is the new standard, which is incompatible with Windows XP / Server 2003. You must have Windows Vista SP2 and up to install .NET Framework 4.5.

.NET 4.0

Shipped with Visual Studio 2010, the .NET Framework 4.0 is still compatible with Microsoft Windows XP SP3, so might be an option if you want to get rid of 3.5 but can’t leave the XP users behind. This is especially relevant for those supporting large corporations, who still have to use Windows XP.

Both 4.0 and 4.5 are installed using the installer packages or via Windows Updates, excerpt the ASP.NET 4.5 which is still a feature in Windows 8. So unless you are creating the website that uses all the perks of ASP.NET 4.5, like bundling or minification, then perhaps you should target your project at version 4.0 to cover users of Windows XP but still use the latest features of .NET framework.

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