Microsoft debuts developer preview of mysterious 'Project N'

"Project N," now officially christened ".Net Native" -- a new compiler for building faster Windows Store apps -- is available now as a developer preview.

Microsoft headquarters, Attkisson piece
Microsoft has released a first developer preview build of .Net Native, the technology formerly known by its code name Project N.

In short, .Net Native compiles C# to native machine code that performs like C++.

"Our compiler in the cloud compiles the app using .Net Native in the Store, creating a self-contained app package that's customized to the device where the app will be installed," Microsoft explained in an blog post on Wednesday.

Microsoft showed off a brief sneak peek of .Net Native late last fall during the Visual Studio 2013 launch.

"This preview release of .Net Native offers you the performance of C++ with the productivity of C#. .Net Native enables the best of both worlds," the company said.

The just-released developer preview enables building apps for Windows Store on ARM and x64 architectures from within Visual Studio. "Stay tuned for x86," the blog post notes. While the preview is for Windows store applications only, Microsoft plans to "evolve and improve native compilation for the range of .Net applications," the post said.

Microsoft itself has used .Net Native to develop some of the first-party Windows Store apps that it built, including Wordament and Fresh Paint, executives noted.

There's a new Microsoft Channel 9 video detailing .Net Native. The developer preview of .Net Native can be downloaded from Microsoft's site.

Microsoft hasn't said when to expect the final version of .Net Native to be available.

About the author

    Mary Jo Foley has been a tech journalist for almost 30 years. She is editor of ZDNet's "All About Microsoft" blog. She authored "Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft Plans to Stay Relevant in the Post-Gates Era" and co-hosts the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT Network.


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