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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.