Microsoft releases first preview of .NET 7

Windows giant promises 20 more years on 20th anniversary of the tech

Microsoft says the first preview of .NET 7 is on its way.

This version of the development framework is aimed at containers and cloud-native applications. Microsoft plans to explore building containers directly via MSBuild as well as bolting on more telemetry and making its containers more nimble.

The platform formerly known as Xamarin Forms, now called .NET MAUI (Multi-platform App UI), will also be included once it has gone to General Availability for .NET 6 (Preview 13 hit last week).

However, the company also warned: "We also know that each of the .NET app models (ASP.NET, WinForms, WPF, etc.) have their own unique challenges with modernization and may be lacking functionality that you need as a developer or support in the platform itself."

The release won't be a Long Term Support (LTS) edition so will only be supported for 18 months past its expected November release date – likely May 2024. .NET 6 will keep on ticking for a full three years, meaning support will end in November 2024.

The first preview is understandably a little light on features compared to Microsoft's ambitions for the coming months. Among the changes in preview 1 are annotation of nullability for more Microsoft.Extensions libraries, ARM64 improvements, and tweaks to the Hot Reload functionality aimed at improving the quality of developers' lives.

The Hot Reload feature caused controversy when Microsoft removed it from open-source .NET 6 in October last year, saying the "functionality" would be available "only through Visual Studio 2022."

The team, however, quickly backtracked following an outcry from devs. .NET's director of program management, Scott Hunter, said at the time: "First and foremost, we want to apologize. We made a mistake in executing on our decision and took longer than expected to respond back to the community. We have approved the pull request to re-enable this code path and it will be in the GA build of the .NET 6 SDK."

At present, migrating from .NET 6 should be relatively painless, and there are few breaking changes at this point (although developers might want to hang fire for the next LTS incarnation unless something irresistible turns up in version 7).

While .NET 7 is cross-platform, Microsoft has tested the code with Visual Studio 17.2 Preview 1 for Windows. Support for the preview in Visual Studio for Mac still has the "coming soon" tag. ®

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