Happy 20th Anniversary, .NET!

Beth Massi

Today marks 20 years since Visual Studio .NET launched and the first version of the .NET platform was released (or should I say, unleashed) to the world. We’re celebrating all month long and we encourage you to tune into a special celebration broadcast, tomorrow, February 14, 9:00am Pacific Time on www.dot.net. Share your stories on Twitter with #dotNETLovesMe, show off your memorabilia, and download some digital swag.

A celebration of the .NET community

Today, over five million developers use .NET and this is a celebration of all of you. It’s amazing that a 20-year-old platform has been the most loved framework by developers for three years in a row now – 2019, 2020, 2021, according to Stack Overflow’s developer survey. And CNCF has recognized .NET repositories in the top 30 highest velocity open-source projects on GitHub since 2017, a testament to all the people actively making the platform better every day. Contributions from the community have also had a direct impact on performance, with .NET topping the TechEmpower performance benchmarks for years. There are hundreds of thousands of packages on NuGet built by the community, thousands of components and tools available from .NET ecosystem partners, and hundreds of .NET user groups worldwide helping local communities learn .NET.

The .NET platform would not be where it is today without all of you.

20 years of innovation

Microsoft has always had deep developer roots. It was born from DOS and BASIC, and by the 90’s we had a large developer tools portfolio, with many different tools and languages for building many kinds of applications. Each tool was good at solving different problems. However, applications had difficulty communicating across them, particularly across machine boundaries.

With the rise of the internet, the world saw an easier way to share information. Technology shifted towards distributed systems that communicated over the internet. .NET was built for this internet revolution. Multiple languages, one runtime, and a set of libraries and APIs that were all compatible. .NET was at the forefront of Microsoft’s transformation to embrace the internet age. We even started tagging “.NET” onto many of our product names back then! Who remembers Windows .NET Enterprise Server? 😊

The minute I started playing with .NET I was hooked. From that moment, I dedicated my career to sharing my knowledge and love for .NET. I’ve had the pleasure of working at Microsoft now for almost 15 years and always with .NET. As the years have progressed, I’ve seen .NET constantly innovate. It’s not just the amazing engineers here at Microsoft. The feedback and help from the developer community has been the key to its success.

When Microsoft made another major transformation, this time towards open source, .NET was also at the forefront. By 2012, we had fully open-sourced the ASP.NET MVC web framework and were accepting contributions. It was one of Microsoft’s first major open-source projects at the time. In 2014, we started to build a cross-platform and open-source .NET on GitHub and were floored at the incredible support and contributions from the open-source community. We released the first version at the Red Hat DevNation conference in 2016 and demonstrated it running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, something that would have been unheard of in the early days. .NET is not just for Windows. We’ve built strong partnerships with companies like Red Hat and IBM to bring .NET to RHEL, IBM Z and IBM LinuxONE. We also have relationships with other distributions, both commercial and community led.

What’s next?

We just released .NET 6 in November 2021 and are full speed ahead building .NET 7. In fact, .NET 7 Preview 1 will release this week. With .NET 6 you now have a unified set of base libraries and SDK, a simplified development experience with investments in C# 10 and minimal APIs, high productivity with hot reload, and a whole lot more. .NET 6 is the fasted adopted version of .NET yet, and we’re seeing very good reception from users. I encourage you to give it a try if you haven’t already.

We’re excited to get the .NET Multi-platform App UI (.NET MAUI) release out the door and in your hands very soon. .NET MAUI will let you build native apps for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android with a single codebase and we are now focusing on quality and bugs so now is the time to try the preview and give us feedback while we can act on it.

With every release we see more growth in .NET usage, and it continues to attract increasing numbers of new, diverse developers. As a long-time member of the .NET community, this is what excites me the most.

.NET has come a long way in 20 years but the original vision to change developers’ lives still holds true. You can build any type of app, for any operating system, with great performance. From high-throughput, cloud-scale services to the smallest microcontrollers .NET is there, and the community has made this platform and its large ecosystem a huge success. Thank you!

We hope you will join us and tune into the celebration broadcast tomorrow, February 14, 9:00am Pacific Time on www.dot.net. Join Scott Hunter, Scott Hanselman, and special guests sharing their stories and taking us on a journey of .NET’s past, present and future. There are also many other events and celebrations happening in the community from our partners, MVPs, and others so be sure to check #dotNETLovesMe on Twitter for all the info.

Here’s to another 20 years!

dot net 20th anniversary logo

6 comments

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  • Rand Random

    Happy B-Day, can hardly wait to see what happens in the next 20 years.

  • Jefferson Motta

    O sonho de quem usava VB6 era que a evolução gerasse um executável sem dependências de DLL. Bem o .NET (Framework) piorou a dependência, mas trouxe estabilidade no inferno das DLLs. Mas de fato, o sonho do VB6 se concretizou no .NET Core que cria o self contained, embarcando todo o sistema operacional junto. Mas meu sonho continua o mesmo, não precisar reescrever e adaptar código para cada evolução de hardware e plataforma. Quem sabe o .NET MAUI será a solução?

  • MgSam

    Nice post!

    Would have been nice to include references to Java as the “inspiration” for the platform and VB as the inspiration for the tooling. I’m hopefully Microsoft will one day be able to get a development environment as nice as .NET was back in the day with WinForms and ASP.NET Forms. WYSIWYG seems more and more elusive in modern frameworks and tooling.

  • Immanuel Van Meirhaeghe

    Oh, I thought it was 03/12, not 02/13 OO

    Ah well, still a late congratulations! I personally have been programming with .NET since the beginning. I wrote my first ASP .NET web application in v1.1, as an intern ending my bachelor’s degree back in 2001-2002 😀 Still going strong, now as senior .NET developer using .NET Core, writing Web APIs in our beloved Visual Studio environment.
    Cheers!