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Confused by .NET? Microsoft say 'tough, you are on your own'

Readers will recall there was some debate on this blog last month about the confusing claims some vendors were making about the .NET compliance of their respective systems. You know “Yah, boo sucks, our software is more .NETtier than yours” – that kind of thing. So, we asked Microsoft if they could offer any guidance. And we waited. And we waited. And we eventually received this (indirect) reply…

We’ve heard from the Microsoft .NET team and they apologize for the delayed response. They indicated that we will need to politely decline on the opportunity to respond as Microsoft cannot make any claims or comparisons about the quality of third-party ISV .NET integration. The .NET team offered links to the following pages about the .NET Framework that may be helpful.
 
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/netframework/default.aspx
http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/zw4w595w.aspx

Comment: Frankly we are disappointed as the impression this gives is that Microsoft places a higher priority on keeping its trading partners & ISVs happy than worrying about the concerns of its end users. Well thank you and goodnight Redmond – and it will just serve you right if the whole world switches to iPads over the next couple of years. In the meantime the best advice to law firms confused by vendor claims is to find themselves an independent .NET expert who can judge the rival claims.

5 replies on “Confused by .NET? Microsoft say 'tough, you are on your own'”

I think that all we need to remember is that .Net compliance is, and will remain, a moving target.
The suppliers who currently proudly boast of .Net3.5 compliance will be shortly overtaken by the others who come back with the .Net4.0 Framework compliance story that utilises the 'new and improved' Foundation Classes etc. These in turn will be overtaken in a few months whenever the next release is rolled-out. And so on, and so on ……twas ever thus.

Personally I think the comment by Microsoft is perfectly reasonable and here's why…
The .NET framework is just that! A framework. One that anyone and their dog can build an application on top of and release to the world.
How could Microsoft possibly be able to comment on all the third party vendors who use their platform for their products. Its like asking someone who makes bricks who builds better houses out of all the builders who use his bricks.
The Microsoft ISV and the Partner programs are there to ensure the third party vendor has staff that are trained to a certain level and and certified in the technologies and fields (or competencies as they like to call them) that they specialise in. This shows a good level of commitment to Microsoft and their methodologies.
Some of these partners go further and pay to have Microsoft test their products against their platforms and I would be surprised if Microsoft would not comment on a product that they themselves have certified.
If you want to have an idea of some sort of quality of a company that write .NET products/code, look at their Microsoft partnership level and then check it against what they have to maintain to keep that logo on their site (https://www.microsoft.com/uk/experts/explained/default.mspx).
As for products products written on the frameworks, look for ones that have been through the Microsoft Test Centres and sport a shiny “Certified for Windows 7” or “Certified for Windows Server 2008”. These are the ones that companies had the guts to have their products ripped apart by the Microsoft test team and got a seal of approval from the Microsoft Technical specialists. Anyone who has the bottle to do that with a product, and see the process through to the end to get said shiny sticker, probably has a pretty good .NET product. The more shiny MS “certified for” stickers, the more teams at microsoft have tried to pull the product apart and given it the thumbs up. These, IMHO, will be the .NET'tiest of them all.
Just my two pennies …
-Andy D
http://www.iphelion.com

Andy – thanks for that useful (and I'm not being sarcastic) comment – CC

The creation and use of .NET assemblies is of course no absolute sign of quality…
I have known certain .NET assemblies to completely ruin a program and cripple a server, though as Alex points out then these are fixed in later releases of the framework (whilst the programmer figures out a way to perform the same function using whatever language they are writing in – something they would have to have written without .NET assemblies anyway).
.NET assemblies are still 'code' and can contain mistakes and issues, the same as any other – however, they are consistent in their methods and generally of high quality and there are large numbers of developers familiar with the common assemblies.
Any program being written by a person incorporating .NET assemblies is still a program, and can therefore be good bad or indifferent. The fact that they are incorporating .NET assemblies does not bear any relationship to the quality of code that surrounds it, the language the program is written in or the applications fitness for purpose.
Andy D makes a very good point (which I suspect is what the Microsoft response refers to) in that Microsoft certified solutions from partners do provide an assurance that assemblies have been used well and that a product is fit for purpose within the technical framework.
Without such certification, there is no point anyone bragging about how 'NETtier' they are. I can write completely rubbish code using .NET 1.1 or .NET 4 (and am sure it will still be rubbish in .NET 9).
.NET is pretty much like a well maintained road – an occasional pothole along the way but generally smooth going. Microsoft certification is then like a new car or one with an MOT; no matter the type of car you drive then you can be sure its reliable and will reach its destination. While non certified vehicles will still run on the road they may not be reliable.
Without such certification then it is 'buyer beware' and organisations should seek assurance over and above “Oh yes, it's NETty”.
One futher point is that whilst suppliers argue about how NETty they are, I don't recall anyone mentioning the CLR (one of the driving rationales behing .NET). Is this because the legal market is running entirely on Microsoft OS's?

Thank you Mr Stokes – another useful comment – and glad to see you are still alive and blogging – CC

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