Microsoft released .NET 8 a couple of months ago, and even though .NET 9 isn’t expected to be available until the end of this year, the company is sharing some insight into what it has planned for this upcoming release. In addition to releasing the roadmap, the company also announced that the first preview of .NET 9 and third preview of .NET Aspire are now available. 

According to Microsoft, the main focus areas for improvements will be cloud-native and AI app development. 

“We’ve spent the last several years building out strong cloud native fundamentals, like runtime performance and application monitoring. We will continue that effort. We’re also turning our focus to delivering paved paths to popular production infrastructure and services, for example running in Kubernetes and using managed database and caching services like Redis,” the .NET team at Microsoft wrote in a blog post

For improved cloud-native performance, the company has been working on Native AOT, which are apps that have been compiled to native code ahead-of-time (AOT), resulting in faster startup times and smaller memory footprints.

Despite its benefits, Native AOT requires the use of many tools that developers wouldn’t typically be working with, which makes it inaccessible. A big part of .NET 9 will be updating Visual Studio support to make it more accessible to developers. 

Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code will also include new development experiences for .NET Aspire, a development stack for building cloud-native applications. New enhancements will be related to configuring components, debugging and hot reload for the AppHost and child processes, and integration with the developer dashboard. 

It is also working with its Azure Container Apps partners to ensure that .NET 9 apps can be easily scaled within their Kubernetes environments. 

.NET 9 will also include features that enable developers to incorporate AI into their applications. Microsoft will continue improving the libraries and documentation for OpenAI and OSS models. It will also continue improving the process for working with Semantic Kernel, OpenAI, and Azure SDK.

The company plans to update its ChatGPT + Enterprise Data with Azure OpenAI and Cognitive Search .NET sample as well. 

“OpenAI has sparked excitement among developers by offering the opportunity to transform their applications with AI. Over the past year, Azure Open AI and .NET have been leveraged to create AI solutions, with Microsoft Copilot being the most popular. We will continue to work with customers looking for ways to use their C# skills to build this new class of apps, and to rapidly invest in our AI platform,” the team wrote. 

Other planned features are available in the .NET 9 Project Backlog, which is publicly available.