The future of WinForms, is it dead? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Sorry for the provocative subject, but I am knee deep in a WinForms application and I am starting to read up on the semi-official line from MSFT insiders on their blogs. It seems that they are throwing their weight behind WFP and leaving WinForms by the side of the road, destined to receive minor updates and bug fixes.

    That is quite fine actually, WinForms has everything I need in it, but what worries me is not that they won't update it anymore, but that they will kill it at the core level of the OS by removing Win32 as the foundation of UI services and supplanting it with a GDI/WPF layer.

    My big nightmare is that sometime in the next 7 years my WinForms app will cease to work 100% properly, somewhat like a 16bit VB app or a DOS app is not gauranteed to run today, albeit for different reasons.

    Frankly I find it quite annoying that Microsoft barely gets done shilling for its latest API before its ushering in the next one. I understand the need to innovate, but when it comes to APIs like this I believe longetivity is key.

    All of this uncertainty, and Microsoft's inability (it seems) to provide a clear statement on the certainty of WinForms *support* (and not improvement or updates) leaves me wanting to scrap my entire WinForms app, and start fresh with an OpenGL based GUI toolkit. I know OpenGL is an API Microsoft can never afford to completely abandon.

    So please, I am more than willing to be convinced of my own paranoia, tell me where I have it wrong? And please no flames, I would like nothing more than to continue using WinForms.
    Thursday, January 3, 2008 12:53 AM

All replies

  • Technology is continuously growing and changing and you will be sure abput WPF is agreat technology improvement since long years ago.


    But the incoming of WPF doesn't carry with immediate Windows Forms elimination... as you remember visual basic 6.0 was replace for vb.net , but at this time exists thousands of programs running  under this plataform yet.


    In Windows Forms case , WForms is a CLR component launched officialy around year 2000, this technology has around 8 - 10 years and a lot of applications use it , so be sure taht nothing like a imprevisve leave of support will happen...


    if you dont believe it just take a look to DOS applications... at this time,  incredible, but too many DOS applications still running under windows plattform and most of them don't have any problem.


    In the current model of CLR, all the newest installed versions carry with support for previous versions.


    take it easy... just relax.


    you need to start thinking about migration or something like that but that no really an immediate and fast required activity to do.

    Thursday, January 3, 2008 3:00 AM
  • I just don't see how WPF could be used to write an application like Softimage XSI, do you? Seriously, I think Microsoft must either know that it will never have that kind of reach or they are simply forgetting about the multitude of applications that would flat out never work on such a framework.

    Here's what I really want to know. Is Win32/GDI going to dissapear? Because that is the ultimate question.
    Thursday, January 3, 2008 4:20 AM

    Softimage XSI is a 3d modeler application, is true that WPF can  create 3d objects but 3d modeling software is out of WPF scope in the same way that is out of  Win32/GDI,  in both cases (WPF & Win32/GDI) only user UI woul get involved,because 3d surfaces 'hard work' is out of scope, the rigth  choice in that cases will be directX or openGL.


    Is Win32/GDI going to dissapear?


    sure but not in the near future, maybe 20 years maybe more.



    Please Dont forget to mark the help post as answers .

    Thursday, January 3, 2008 4:29 AM
  • Well you are partly right, the 3D surfaces aspect of Softimage XSI is done with OpenGL, and XSI does support creating DirectX HLSL based shaders, as well as visualizing them.

    However you may not realize but the entire UI of XSI, the non 3D surface portion, is written in strict C/C++ based Win32. In fact XSI started out under Microsoft way back in the 90's after Microsoft aquired Softimage and began the foundation of their next project that would become XSI. Microsoft quickly sold them (I have no idea what they were thinking when they bought them).

    But XSI's entire slick UI is written in Win32. I cannot imagine the multitude of its interface elements, many highly complicated yet very elegant, being re-written in WPF. In fact I think the true test of of time for Win32 will be driven by apps such as XSI. I think Softimage and others like Adobe helped make Windows a viable platform for multimedia content creation. Would Microsoft risk alienating those application providers and thereby risk giving MacOS another opening for more marketshare?

    I somehow highly doubt it, and this is making me believe (the more I think about it) that WPF is really nothing but the latest flavor de jour. I read a quote from Michael Wallant, who said something to the effect that they hope to make Windows Forms apps on Longhorn look like DOS apps on XP. He said this obviously prior to Vista's release. But this is the kind of arrogant and wreckless disregard for their customer base that drives people to consider other platforms. Funny because I recall seeing Michael Wallant speak when he was the lead developer on IE4, and he presented the new DHTML object model to a gathering of visiting partners, back in 1997.

    We all know how successfull that destop-embedded "web channel" theory worked out. I think WPF may end up in a similar category.

    Windows Forms has staying power and I really wish Microsoft was much more conservative in how it allowed its mouthpieces to speak about it. They have a lot riding on it, and so do the rest of us.

    While I am comforted by your estimation that Win32 will exist for another two decades, I would be more comforted if I heard that it would be here for another one decade if it came from Microsoft officially. It's suspicious that it will not commit to something like that.
    Thursday, January 3, 2008 5:09 AM
  • Have you really see the WPF power?

    i dont believe it.


    and just take a look to the microsoft expression builtin examples..

    with WPF you can make web or windows GUI without major changes and yu can create simple and flat windows based UI ( like windows forms/wfc/win32/gdi) or advanced controls for both (web /windows ) just like the menu in the webpage above.

    look that:


    everithing made it with WPF, as a fact all the webpage use wpf.

    I would be more comforted if I heard that it would be here for another one decade if it came from Microsoft officially.

    I believe that ask for an official advice is... kind of crazy beacause the future is not predictable at all... depends of market, consumer evolution, the other products,plattforms... developer neededs and a lot of more things...

    but we can wait for something like that... and wait and wait and wait...

    take it easy be sure that they will be stay with us for a long time yet...
    Thursday, January 3, 2008 5:24 AM
  • Well believe it. I've looked at it and spoke today with a major component maker that sells a flowcharting control. Look on the MindFusion discussion boards and you'll see that they have ported their library to WPF and while they are excited about the new methodology of the API, the performance is subpar from WinForms. That is pretty sad if WPF already runs on top of DirectX.

    I see a lot of bloat here. I think Microsoft keeps bloating and bloating and bloating. It's like a cliche but it is apparently true.
    Friday, January 4, 2008 2:12 AM
  • I feel your pain, I would also like some clarity on this subject.


    I have a problem in which the software community as far I can tell either has their heads in the sand about or have become the lemmings they are and follow Microsoft off the proverbial cliff.

    I have a few major programs that where written in VB6. I chose that language because at the time it was the fastest way of producing the programs my newly started company needed and was the most popular language in the world. Then as most of you know Microsoft swept it under the rug. I now have 4 major programs that has taken me the better of 11 years to write.

    I've since moved on to .net and c# and all new programs have been written in .net but I have to re-write these VB6 programs and I really don't want to write them for a third time by writing them using Winforms, if its going away.

    I've also been checking out WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) Microsofts new UI for .net 3.5. I am not a designer of UI and this piece of *** is not ready for the masses. I just need a tool to program with and I believe that WPF is not ready for a major project.

    I've heard that Microsoft is depreciating Winforms. Is that true? I haven't found any documentation to confirm this and if it is true I wish Microsoft would just say so! That being the case what would happen to companies like AutoDESK and all the software that is based in Winforms. They will likely say that it will be around for some years to come. I would like to have a little more assurance than a passing statement. But we all know that once something has been depreciated that there is no new tools or anything else produced in the future and will become stagnant. (Just try to find something fresh for VB6).

    I have to re-write this VB6 software, but I don't want to use a UI thats not going to be around. I realize the c# code written for the application will not be a loss if you keep your design generic.

    I would really like to hear what other like programmers are going to do about this, if anything? Do they even know about it? Do they have there heads in the sand? Where is the public out cry of all the software out there already written that now in VB6. This affects any previous program developed on .net 1.1 and up.

    What do I do? (Cry!!!!!!, Cry some more)



    Sunday, January 20, 2008 6:41 PM