.NET 8 arrives with new features for building intelligent apps

Microsoft is hosting its annual .NET Conf today through Thursday, and the company has kicked off the event by announcing that .NET 8 is now generally available.

“With this release, .NET reshapes the way we build intelligent, cloud-native, applications and high-traffic services that scale on demand,” Gaurav Seth, partner director of product for developer platforms at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post. “Whether you’re deploying to Linux or Windows, using containers or a cloud app model of your choice, .NET 8 makes building these apps easier. It includes a set of proven libraries that are used today by the many high-scale services at Microsoft to help you with fundamental challenges around observability, resiliency, scalability, manageability, and more.”

In .NET 8, developers can integrate large language models, like GPT, into a .NET app. To improve compatibility with generative AI workloads, the company also added several enhancements in the System.Numerics library. 

Microsoft has spent the past several months working with internal and external partners to give developers access to AI models, services, and platforms, including Azure OpenAI, Azure Cognitive Search, Milvus, Qdrant, and Microsoft Teams. The Semantic Kernel SDK helps simplify the integration process for working with those services. 

To make it easier for developers to get started with AI, the company also created several samples and reference templates that showcase AI patterns and practices. Currently these include Customer Chatbot, Retrieval Augmented Generation, and Developing Apps using Azure AI services. 

The next main part of this release is the preview of .NET Aspire, which is a tech stack designer for building cloud-native applications. It comes with components that include features like telemetry, resilience, configuration, and health checks.

There were also several updates made to benefit developers using containers. Microsoft is providing experimental variants of container images that provide minimal application sides. There are also new Chiseled Ubuntu image variants, which further reduce attack surfaces. 

Blazor, a framework for building interactive UIs, has also been updated with several new features, including the ability to use Blazor Server and Blazor WebAssembly in the same app, implementation of the “Jiterpreter” based runtime, and support for generating Identity UIs. 

The cross-platform development framework .NET MAUI was updated as well with new controls, UI elements and platform-specific behaviors, like desktop interaction getting better click handling and keyboard listeners. 

And finally, several C# improvements from C# 12 have made their way into .NET 8. These include the ability to create primary constructors in any class with a simple syntax, new default values for parameters in lambda expressions, and the ability to use the “using” alias to alias any type, not just named ones. 

In addition to .NET 8, Microsoft also announced that Visual Studio 2022 17.8 is now available, with new features that improve productivity, support for different programming languages, and enterprise management.

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