Microsoft .NET 8 nears the finish line

.NET 8, the planned next version of Microsoft’s software development platform, has moved to a second and final release candidate (RC) stage. General availability is due in November.

Unveiled October 10, .NET 8 RC 2 can be downloaded from the Microsoft .NET website for Windows, Linux, and Mac. The successor to .NET 7, which was released in November 2022, .NET 8 will be supported for three years.

Enhancements in RC 2 include improved performance and UI fixes for the .NET MAUI (Multi-platform App UI) framework and updates to Entity Framework. With .NET 8, developers will see a variety of improvements ranging from AOT (ahead-of-time) compilation and source generation to JSON serialization and garbage collection enhancements.

Specific improvements in .NET 8 include:

  • Better System.Text.Json serialization and deserialization, with built-in support for more types, new API methods, and other improvements.
  • Garbage collection adds a capability to adjust the memory limit on the fly. This is viewed as particularly useful in cloud scenarios, where demand fluctuates.
  • A source generator is being introduced to offer AOT (ahead-of-time) compilation and trim-friendly configuration in ASP.NET Core. This generator is an alternative to the existing reflection-based implementation.
  • New types to improve app performance including a Text.CompositeFormat type to optimize format strings not known at compile time.
  • For reflection, a System.Type object provides access to function pointer metadata including calling conventions, return type, and parameters. This functionality currently only is implemented in the CoreCLR runtime and MetadataLoadContext.
  • Additional SIMD support is offered, introducing Vector512<T> and support for Intel Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (AVX-512).
  • For cryptography, .NET 8 adds support for the SHA-3 hashing primitives.
  • HTTP client now supports HTTPS proxy, providing an encrypted channel between the client and proxy, to handle requests with privacy.
  • New overloads of CreateFromDirectory enable collection of files included in a directory and zipping them. These then can store the resulting zip file into the provided stream.
  • Native AOT support for iOS-like platforms is introduced in a preliminary fashion.
  • A ValidateOptionsResultBuilder type is being introduced to facilitate the creation of a ValidateOptionsResult. This builder allows for the accumulation of multiple errors.
  • Changes have been made to .NET container images, such as introduction of a pattern to mix and match architectures with .NET images. Also, performance has been improved for pushing containers to remote registries, particularly Azure registries.
  • A new source generator that supports interoperating with COM interfaces.
  • For Android apps, the <AndroidStripILAfterAOT> property lets you opt into further AOT compilation for Android apps to decrease app size.

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