Microsoft building new UI framework

.NET WPFNot too long ago Microsoft described Windows Presentation Foundation as the “UI platform for the next 20 years”. Surprisingly work is beginning on an even newer Windows UI framework. My Windows Vista clock must be running slow.

Bearing in mind the arsenal of Windows UI frameworks that exists today – Windows Presentation Foundation, Silverlight, Windows Forms, Win32, Media Center Markup Language and more from third parties; Microsoft has decided to build yet another one “to enable new UI experiences in future versions of Windows”. Here is the job advertisement,

Are you excited about the challenge of building V1 features? Are you passionate about UI development environments? Want to impact the look and feel of future versions of Windows?

The Windows UI Platform team is creating a new Framework that will enable new UI experiences in future versions of Windows.

We are looking for an experienced Software Development Engineer in Test who is highly motivated and has a passion for software test engineering. You will be working with developers, program managers, and members of the test team to ship high quality UI Framework components and APIs. You will be responsible for contributing to the product definition phase, reviewing product specs and designs, creating test plans, designing, implementing, and maintaining high quality test automation. You must be motivated and driven to push changes, improve quality and inspire other high potential SDETs with your technical leadership. Areas include creating test automation framework components and testing APIs as well as lower-level framework features. We are just starting up this V1 project and this is your opportunity to come in and make a great impact.

I hear this new framework is going to replace XAML with BEDAZZLE. On a more serious note, the shovel has only hit the ground so keep learning your XAML. It almost certainly won’t be shipping in Windows 7.

29 insightful thoughts

  1. It would be silly of Microsoft to reboot WPF or anything, the evidence suggests it’ll be to push Iris to a first-class well-documentated API for smooth user-interfaces for native applications. As it stands, WPF isn’t so easy to use with native environemnts, but Iris is.

  2. I don’t know. “v.1″ is often used in job adverts to entice potential candidates. This could be a new gesture API in WPF or something.

  3. UI Framework is NOT what they are saying here, they’re saying UI EXPERIENCE. This is more likely gestures, multi-touch, etc.

  4. @Judah:

    Here’s the line from the job advert, as quoted in Long’s post above:

    “The Windows UI Platform team is creating a new Framework that will enable new UI experiences in future versions of Windows.”

  5. Maybe some native APIs (=unmanaged) based on milcore.dll would be fine – i remember some people of MS at channel 9 thinking about that when wpf was in its final stages.

    I don’t think that they will drop wpf (the other way round, i think v2 will be much better), because it is a great technology which suffers some solvable problems (like performance) which also have to do with underlying stuff in windows (even vista) – hopefully the window managing stuff will evolve much further in win 7 (even on vista, custom windows other than rectangular and per pixel opacity is a problem perf- and experience wise) – but we will see improvements with .net 3.5 when it is hitting the market with vs 2008 which as it seems is aligned with vista sp1 too, which on its side includes enhancements to wpf of .net 3.0.

    Remember, wpf is a classic v1.0 product of MS, it has huge potential but due to its variety of usage scenarios it can’t cover everything perfectly and until Vista and powerful PCs aren’t widely adopted, no software vendor will risk bigger software releases to only run on a small user base.

    For wpf 2.0 I hope for Multi-Touch support (they use wpf alongside dx for powering their surface table already so the touch capabilities could be integrated to wpf for other multi-touch devices too), better performance and rendering as well as better integration with the windows platform.

  6. You know that both XP and Vista shipped an internal-only UI framework called “DirectUI” (or DUI for short), right? It’s used for pretty much anything in the UI that animates (login screen, tabs in IE, Aero Wizards, etc). This is simply an update to that. It’s highly unlikely it will ever be made publicly available.

  7. When we see “WOW” aplicatinos with WPF technology if Microsoft apply this type of politics. We are developing LOB WPF aplication… I hope Microsoft put more efforts in actual and real technologies… The important is the solutions and the design of these, not only the futures technologies. Apple demostrate this with Apple. Please Microsoft…take note.

  8. Just a guess, but I think this might be related to UI needs of Surface computing. I’m sure there is work to be done to make multi-touch easier to develop for.

  9. I don’t pretend to know the latest gossip from within the Redmond campus.. but what sort of high theory are you cooking up here? I am curious to know what induced the idea that WPF is slow and bloated, and consequently, on the way out the door?

    Sure, it lacks the speed of a Win32 application.. but WPF is barely out the door *officially*. They have a good platform going with a lot of excited developers and building upon the framework is the only option I can see for them right now. It may change, but I believe that is to be expected with the natural evolution of things.

    I’ve done some reading into this and I think there are two possible ‘new frameworks’ they are developing (read: expanding upon)… it’s either making a ‘surface’ multitouch based interface for the tablet PC freaks (0.000001% of the population, but if it drives sales….), or the WPF Composite Client.

    Neither of which are earth shattering news bits..

  10. Did I miss it, or was there no link to the public announcement of this new framework you mentioned? Without a public announcement from Microsoft, why should anyone believe this or care? Show me the money!

  11. WPF is far from dead and, frankly, is not a slow UI platform when run on modern hardware. It’s a huge improvement (technically) over the GDI+ based Windows display tech that has its roots in the original versions of Windows.

    That said, MS does need to do a lot more to make WPF as easy to develop with as GDI+/WinForms development has become. I’d put more weight behind this being improved framework features or new input mechanics (like gesture/multi-touch) than a WPF replacement.

  12. Maybe it’s related to the Acropolis Framework. Since that project was killed in order to integrate it (or something to that effect) into the .NET Framework, that seems logical.

    In fact, there are so many things it could be instead of a WPF replacement that speculating about it seems like a huge waste of time. V1 Frameworks are never perfect, and who is to say if they went to all the effort of building a new WPF replacement that it would be much better than if they worked on a V2 of WPF?

  13. My best guess is this is an updated gui framework for native Win32 applications.

    Microsoft has gone on a big managed code bender for the last few years, and basically ignored everyone that writes native Win32 apps.

    Considering 95% of the OS itself is written in native code, and there are situations where you want to ship native applications (performance, stability, tons of code legacy that you don’t want to rewrite managed), it’s long overdue for something better to be publically available for native code developers to use than GDI/USER/COMCTLs.

  14. WPF fast on modern hardware? What is that, 12000 CPU PC with 5000 graphics cards?

    You have to be joking, there is nothing in the world that can speed up the state of WPF mess. It is worse than the slowest Java GUI.

  15. WPF apps are practically as responsive as any other native app, on my Core 2 Duo, 1 GB, 256-MB GeForce 8400.

    and let’s not ever use the words “Java” and “GUI” in the same oxymoronic sentence.

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