.NET Micro Framework 4.0 Beta Available for Download

Microsoft .NET Micro Framework 4.0 has entered Beta stage and the Redmond-based company is offering testers two Beta releases to try out. In this regard, developers looking to leverage the next iteration of .NET Micro Framework will be able to download Beta builds of both the software development kit and the Porting Kit for the technology. Both the .NET Micro Framework 4.0 SDK Beta and the .NET Micro Framework 4.0 Porting Kit Beta were made available for download at the end of the past week.

Microsoft has noted that version 4.0 brings to the table a consistent evolution, and introduces support for a range of new features, including HTTP and HTTPs, multi-touch, versioning, emulator support for SSL and HTTPS, native XML Parser, native collections, time sync, arbitrary display size, large buffers, watchdog and Power Level control, thick pens and gradient fills, TinyCore performance improvements.

.NET Micro Framework 4.0 will take managed applications to the next level, but in order to build the apps, developers will need the SDK. Of course that Microsoft is also providing an emulator in with the next version of .NET Micro Framework, in order to streamline the development of managed apps. Although version 4.0 is far from being completed, the Redmond-based company informed that support is growing with some firmware updates already tailored for the release. Once the app is put together, the Porting Kit comes into play, allowing developers to make sure that their creation plays nice with their hardware.

Testers interested in .NET Micro Framework 4.0 can grab the Beta build via Microsoft Connect. With version 4.0, Microsoft is also offering access to the source code for the technology, and is also allowing customers to redistribute the upcoming version of .NET Micro Framework. The company explained that the RTM variant of .NET Micro Framework 4.0 would also feature a license to redistribute the source code. Of course, most importantly, the software giant is looking for developers interested in .NET Micro Framework 4.0 to create a community focused on driving the development process forward.

A member of the .NET Micro Framework team enumerated the following feature additions for version 4.0:

HTTP and HTTPs: An object model is now provided for handing both HTTP clients and servers, similar to the .NET Framework, with the new types System.Net.HttpWebRequest, System.Net.HttpWebResponse, and System.Net.HttpListener from assembly System.Http.dll
Multi-touch: Basic support for multi-touch events, such as moving two fingers on a touch screen, is now provided in the object model and the emulator. Gesture support has been redesigned to be faster and more flexible.
Versioning: Versioning has been implemented to strictly identify assemblies by the version number at build time and on the device, and eventually re-deploying missing assemblies. Side-by-side load and bind for types belonging to the same assemblies with a different version number is supported. Support has also been added for assembly naming which includes the version number.
Emulator support for SSL and HTTPS: The emulator now explicitly supports SSL and HTTPs emulation.
Native XML Parser: The XML parser has been moved to native code for better performance.
Native collections: The collection classes have been moved to native code for performance, and have been enriched with Queue and Stack types.
Time sync: Devices can use the new Time Sync API to sync the system time with a specified server’s time, automatically or manually.
Arbitrary display size: A custom heap and allocation area is now provided to support bitmaps larger than 760KB.
Large buffers: A new type, Microsoft.SPOT.Hardware.LargeBuffer, is provided for allocating buffers larger than 760KB, which would not fit in the managed heap. This type is located in assembly Microsoft.SPOT.Hardware.
Watchdog and Power Level control: The power level and the watchdog behavior can now be controlled from the managed application using types Microsoft.SPOT.Hardware.PowerState and Microsoft.SPOT.Hardware.Watchdog from assembly Microsoft.SPOT.Hardware.dll.
Thick pens and gradient fills: A richer graphic model is now provided for designing widgets and controls.
TinyCore performance improvements: TinyCore performance has been enhanced in the area of event dispatching and layout.