.NET Native Dev Preview, Fast as C++, Easy as C#
Courtesy Keith Ward, VisualStudioMagazine.com
A difficult choice is often faced at the beginning of a new development project: should the language be native, like C++, for the power and performance it provides, or managed, like C#, for speed of development? Microsoft has a new answer to that question, in the form of Microsoft .NET Native.
Microsoft claims that .NET Native, now in developer preview, can provide both: C++ performance with the managed-code benefits of C#. Subramanian Ramaswamy and Andrew Pardoe, senior program managers on the .NET Native team, blogged today that Windows Store (i.e., Windows 8) apps "start up to 60% faster with .NET Native and have a much smaller memory footprint."
The developer preview is a compiler that allows test and dev of new apps. It works for Windows Store on ARM and x64 architectures (with hints that x86 support is coming). Microsoft says that .NET Native optimizes Windows Store apps for device scenarios "in all stages of compilation." The magic happens in the .NET Native runtime, which uses the Microsoft VC++ back end in the compiler. It refactors and optimizes .NET Native libraries as part of the process.
Even though it’s at the dev preview stage, Microsoft pointed out that some popular Windows Store apps, like Wordament and Fresh Paint, are running on .NET Native right now.
The preview release supports only C# currently, because it’s the most popular language for Windows Store apps, Microsoft said in a FAQ. But it’s open to F#, VB and other languages in the future. In addition, Windows Phone app support for .NET Native is "in progress," according to the FAQ.
Using .NET Native requires Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RC, released yesterday.