IE 10 Preview, Entity Framework and MVC 3 Updates Unveiled at Microsoft's MIX '11

Microsoft kicked off the beginning of MIX11 in Las Vegas today with its keynote that included the announcement the Entity Framework 4.1 and ASP.NET MVC 3 Tooling Update release dates. Microsoft also unveiled the first platform preview of Internet Explorer (IE) 10, while affirming its commitment to the HTML5 and CSS3 emerging Web standards.

Dean Hachamovitch, corporate vice president of Internet Explorer, strolled onto the stage wearing a shirt bearing the word "ten," in the recognizable IE font. The t-shirt foreshadowed Hachamovitch's announcement that Microsoft had released the IE10 platform preview just four weeks after the production version of IE9 had shipped. The pre-release browser is available for download here.

Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Platform, announced several server-side developments, including the release of Entity Framework 4.1, which adds Code First functionality. The new version provides for a more code-centric approach that doesn't require a designer or XML mapping file.

Also released for immediate download is ASP.NET MVC 3 Tooling Update, which adds support for HTML5 semantic markup, integrated jQuery libraries, and the open source Nuget package manager. HTML5 support in the MVC 3 update is enabled via Modernizr, an integrated, open source JavaScript library that detects browser version and allows HTML to be scaled to each target.

Emphasis on Standards
Hachamovitch during his keynote immediately launched into Microsoft's commitment to standards, specifically to the HTML5 specification. "As developers we'd rather have native support for features rather than an add-in or hack," he said. "Native experiences are the best experiences."

Hachamovitch presented a series of demos, which showed IE9 providing superior performance and compatibility with HTML5 sites compared to Google Chrome. These included Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) animation, HTML5-based video playback and accurate rendering of CSS3-based markup.

Hachamovitch also announced that Microsoft would adopt a more measured release schedule with IE10, in an effort to provide more time to work on reported issues with each iteration. Said Hachamovitch: "In fact, for the next version of Internet Explorer, we will change the cadence of platform previews to be eight to 12 weeks apart, rather than eight."

Also evident during the keynote was Microsoft's aggressive support of open source development and tooling. Last year at MIX10, Scott Guthrie had announced Microsoft's commitment to the jQuery library. This year's event included additional jQuery integration with the ASP.NET MVC 3 Tooling Update, support for the Nuget package manager, and sponsorship of open source projects like the Orchard CMS project.

Windows Azure Spotlight
Microsoft also turned its interoperability and standards message to the cloud, with Guthrie emphasizing how Windows Azure enables .NET developers to use mature skill sets to bring Web applications to the cloud.

Announced during the keynote was the release of the Windows Azure Traffic Manager community technology preview (CTP), which optimizes application traffic across regions to improve performance and enable failover. Guthrie also previewed the Windows Azure content delivery network (CDN), which allows developers to upload IIS Smooth Streaming-encoded video for delivery to Silverlight, iOS and Android Honeycomb-based clients.

Other Windows Azure platform announcements include the expected availability within the next 30 days of the Azure AppFabric Caching service, which will improve Windows Azure and SQL Azure application performance. A new version of the Windows Azure AppFabric Access Control service was also announced, with immediate availability. The new service enables single-sign-on for Windows Azure applications, working with Active Directory or with Web identities such as Windows Live ID, Google, Yahoo! and Facebook.

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.