Microsoft has announced the next major milestone for the .NET platform with the release of the first preview of .NET 7. The language recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and according to Microsoft, this release “marks the first step forward towards the next 20 years of .NET.”

This release will build off foundations laid in .NET 6, such as a unified set of base libraries, runtime, and SDK; a simplified development experience, and improved productivity for developers.

According to Microsoft, the major areas of focus for .NET 7 include:

  1. Improved support for cloud native development
  2. Tools that will enable developers to more easily upgrade their legacy projects
  3. A simplified experience for working with containers

“Containers are the preferred way to deploy cloud native apps and microservices for many companies today. Relying on containers presents several challenges including managing compliance, building and publishing images, securing images, and streamlining the size and performance of images. We believe that there is an opportunity to create a better experience with .NET containers,” Jeremy Likness, senior program manager for .NET Data, wrote in a blog post

Features included in .NET 7 Preview 1 include annotations to APIs to support nullability, JIT compiler optimizations, new APIs, and support for hot reload scenarios. 

.NET MAUI will also be a part of .NET 7. The company released .NET MAUI preview 13 earlier this week and is currently in the process of supporting .NET MAUI in .NET 6. It expects to have a release candidate (RC) for that soon and will continue to ship RCs until it is ready for general availability. Once it is available in .NET 6, it will be included in .NET 7.

Areas of improvement around .NET MAUI that will be a focus in .NET 7 include improving the inner development loop experience, supporting .NET SDK tooling, faster app performance, more code sharing, and an enhanced interop story.

“A global and diverse team of engineers at Microsoft in collaboration with a highly engaged community of developers are building .NET 7. The broad .NET community, including everyone from students and hobbyists to open-source contributors and enterprise customers, are at the heart of .NET. They propose new ideas, contribute code regularly, and drive the .NET ecosystem forward. We appreciate and thank you for your support, contributions and insights. Welcome to .NET 7,” Likeness wrote.