Coming Home


Looking at the blog history, it has been exactly two years since I last made an entry so it about time for a new update.  Let’s talk about why the team is back and what we are doing.

Some months ago at the BUILD conference, Steve Teixeira (Director of Program Management on the IOT team) re-introduced the .NET Micro Framework and announced that Microsoft is increasing its investment in this platform.  The project has found its home as part of the Internet of Things effort that grew out of the Windows Embedded team.   In this new home, NETMF contributes a platform for rapid development for small (eg Cortex ‘M’ class) devices to the Microsoft IOT offerings.

After 2 years away from the platform, this new initiative has me returning to the NETMF team.  Being the ‘new’ guy on the team, I get to take a few days to review and possibly re-orient that roadmap for the project.  I can tell you what I will be looking into. 

  1. NETMF started out as the platform for the MS Smart watches and we took some pride in having built a highly reliable platform.  We will continue to strive for that bar and are currently looking at some reported issues in areas like the networking stack integration
  2.  One of the core values of NETMF is that we enable .NET developers to create applications that were previously the domain of ‘embedded’ programmers.  Over time, the tools and expectations of the .NET developers has evolved faster than our .NET support. We are looking at several solutions in this space.
  3. NETMF is built around an IL interpreter that gives us a great debugging story but comes with some overhead.   We are looking at several ways of increasing performance and decreasing footprint to broaden the application space where NETMF can be applied.
  4. All of this leads up to the best part which is creating a platform that seamlessly participates in IOT/connected devices applications. Part of being seamless is to collaborate with the other Microsoft platforms to define a common set of interfaces for code portability. 

NEMTF enables .NET developers to span the entire range of connected devices solutions and the focus IOT at Microsoft is the basis for the re-investment in NETMF.   Connected devices enable a large number of exciting new applications which is why this space has gotten so much ‘buzz’ over the last 6-8 years.  With all that attention, why is it taking so long to see more connected devices implementations in our environment?   It is partly the large surface area of a connected devices application which can include ‘embedded’ programming of new devices, complex communications merging isolated sets of small devices were with enterprise class back ends at huge scale, remote device management (updating, controlling, monitoring, securing), and back end analytics to leverage the inundation of data. When we started NETMF most of the  embedded devices were built with no OS at all – just an isolated application written typically in C that executed directly on the hardware to perform one set of actions.  That is much less viable with connected devices where the devices must leverage communications standards to reach the
data aggregation points reliably and securely.  This is the problem that the NETMF team will be looking into solving in the near term.  These are exciting problems to solve and I am really happy to be back with the team to participatein this exciting re-investment.  

That is what I am thinking.  How about you?  I am looking forward restarting a dialog so let’s have your thoughts and comments and questions. I look forward to rekindling the NETMF project and especially the community. 

I also want to thank all the NETMF community for their continued support for the project.

Comments (32)

  1. G. Andrew Duthie says:

    Welcome back, Colin!

    Absolutely delighted by the news, and looking forward to more blog posts to come!

  2. Justin says:

    Welcome back Colin 🙂

    Really looking forward to seeing NETMF get the support it needs.

  3. Valkyrie-MT says:

    Awesome.  I'm really looking forward to all the new development.  Also, please make sure the GCC compiler or some other low cost compiler remains a supported option.  

  4. Glad to see .NetMF getting the support it deserves at last.  Time to build .NetMF goodness everywhere.

  5. Paolo Patierno says:

    It's a great news Colin !

    Welcome back on Net MF project !

    Paolo

  6. Lorenzo Maiorfi (innovactive) says:

    Welcome back, Mr Miller! As many of us who use netmf on daily basis to provide our customers with amazing embedded solutions, I really hope that your work will help this great platform to be finally seen as a professional framework, as it no doubt deserves.

    Good luck!

  7. Rob Miles says:

    This is splendid news. Welcome back sir. "The Day of the Micro Framework" could well be upon us.

  8. andre.m says:

    welcome back, collin :.-)

    i am so happy

    what i would like to know are your plans regarding ipv6 support

  9. Niels Jakob Buch says:

    We have missed you. Looking forward to some exciting improvements.

    Looks like you already have a good roadmap, I guess you are going to be busy 😉

  10. Tim Cavanaugh says:

    Can you speak about any plans to integrate this into the Windows IoT image that is being developed for Intel Galileo devices?

  11. Colin Miller says:

    Andre asked about IPV6 support.   That is clearly a requirement we are coming up against.   We don't have a date for when it will be supported yet.

    Tim asked about integration with Windows IoT image running on larger devices.   I tried to capture that work in bullet number 4.   There is not a plan to directly integrate with Windows since there are already great app development tools there.  However we are looking at reducing the differences between IOT apps developed in Windows and NETMF

  12. PepLluis says:

    Happy come back, Colin.

    Big team to jump together again!

  13. Jason James says:

    It's exciting to hear that MS are really starting to get behind NETMF and put some teams together to help the large community of developers and makers really leverage the power of this great platform. It seems like support for NETMF and IoT has support from the top down at MS and I believe that's what's needed to recover the lost ground. I'm looking forward to what this refocus will mean to the platform, its future roadmap and the solutions the community will create. I think there'll be a lot of people watching you and hope it's not another two years before your next post 😉 Welcome back and good luck.

  14. Nicolas Besson says:

    Great to here some news on the .Net MF.

  15. Bryan Fisher says:

    Colin

    Glad you are back, it is good to see Microsoft is really behind NETMF again.

    I used it since the contest for several solutions including a couple cellular based IOT projects.

    bpfisher@retro-mation.com

  16. Mike Müller says:

    hey,

    Greate news, hope microsoft will invest seriously into the micro framework.

    So guys please remain "on the ball" and bring the greatest framework all over the world :o)

    It's simply the best devlopment environment and I hope I can convince my team to build on the netmf.

    The biggest doubt of the team was always that microsoft does not invest sutainable in the netmf.

  17. slava.vassiliev says:

    Hey, Hi!

    I am happy to hear you again. NetMF is my most favorite emb framework. I agree with Tim C. about Intel Galileo. I have got this board (Gen2) two days ago. And I have a couple ideas about new advanced port of netmf. In short words I plan to integrate it with Rx. Intel Galileo's power looks like enough for it.  I hope to start this integrated port in Jan'15.

    Yours,

    Slava.

  18. Mr. Zator says:

    Great news, nice to hear that netmf is back.

  19. Frank Ohnmacht says:

    Nice! Welcome back, let's rock!

  20. Pol says:

    juste went on arduino, hope .net mf will one day be as cheap as arduino, cause .net is easyer than C …

  21. Terrence says:

    Could you tell me what Cortex M devices the mf runs on?  I already know about netduino, but what other devices "smaller cheaper" will this run on and is there guidance on using netmf on them?

    Arduino c is killing me, I need my c# fix.

    Thanks

    Terrence

  22. Cuno says:

    Welcome back indeed! Looks like the NETMF ice age is coming to an end.

  23. Valkyrie-MT says:

    Colin.  Please consider fully implementing support in the PK for a few new hardware reference designs.  Such as a good+low cost ARM platform with integrated wifi, such as the TI cc3200 and the spark photon.  The simplicity of C# with the power of embedded wifi will be a phenomenal combination.  

    Also, it would be nice if the hardware watchdogs, RTC, and powerstate control are integrated into .NET MF so that the API is consistent across platforms.  The powerstate control is a key differentiator for this class of devices.  I want a battery powered device to go into a super low power state and periodically wake up to take a sensor reading and send results over wifi or something.  

  24. Jules says:

    Do we all believe Microsoft is serious this time ?

    It will take some time to regrain the trust of all those C# developers, who watched Microsoft leave us in the lurch and dissapear from the scene

  25. Colin Miller says:

    Terrence,

       NETMF runs best on M3/M4 class processors but I think you are asking about boards.  The less expensive Arduinos are running on the ATmega 8 bit processor.  The comparable 9M3) based device is the Arduino Due which is selling at around $40 so the Netduino at $35 is competitive.   GHI Electronics offers some boards as well which might suit your needs.  However, I agree with your sentiment and we are looking at ways to work with lower end Cortex M processors.  

  26. Colin Miller says:

    Valkyrie-MT,

         All good suggestions.  We should look at other processor families as well.  

        We'll look into power state improvements.  

  27. ewood says:

    I completely agree on the Power State management within NETMF.  There was a very large (600,000 device) opportunity that needed their IoT devices to last for 5 years on a battery but we couldn't achieve that with the MSFT platform; which would have been ideal.  The solution is deploying today using in-house developed firmware, completely unmanaged, non-standard and silo'd.

  28. Pol says:

    i've buyed ten arduinos for 40$ (pro mini)

    it does the job

  29. Pol says:

    i buyed 10 arduinos for 40$ (pro mini)

  30. Alex says:

    I tried to replace some native solutions with NetMF, but many times the performance is just too bad. Please implement JIT or AOT!

    Simple things like capturing a signal at more than a few HZ are not possible at the moment, which is a "No Go" for an embedded system….

  31. Colin Miller says:

    Alex – performance and footprint are a key area of investment this year.  They are both significant investments so it will not be solved in ht next few months but we do understand the issue,

  32. Poul says:

    Nice news! Our company will start to use NetMF (:

    Good work!

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