I've downloaded Vista RC1 over the weekend and decided that Vista is getting very close, so it's definitely time to get cranking with .net 3.0. At this point in time information is scattered, confusing and light on, so I'll be hoping to help share my investigations with others out there. It seems like it's going to be a learning curve, but hopefully at the end it's worthwhile.
But for the moment, at RC1, it's probably still a little too risky to fully convert an important machine to Vista, so I'd suggest you get hold of a test machine. Below is some of the software you can use to get you up and running on a test PC, before the .net 3.0 and Vista become official versions.
I'm very impressed with Vista RC1. It's clearly a "pretty" OS, up there with the latest Mac OS (which I've reluctantly used a bit) and any screenshots I've seen of the fancier Linux OS's. It's features are growing on me, but as a sceptic I'd still say for the vast majority of users there are mild improvements apart from visual ones. With tools like Media Center, DVD authoring, automatic mobile device recognition (eg my PDA) and calender built into the OS, it does avoid a bit of the countless software installs we are used to with a fresh OS, so there is something to be gained from getting Vista.
Go get it now here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/preview.mspx
Windows Server 2003
Of course if you aren't willing to be a guinea pig for Microsoft, but still want a fresh, legal version of XP for a test machine to try out .net 3.0, Micrsoft is giving out a 6 month trial of Windows server 2003. The beauty of this is you get 6 months uninterupted development on a machine, without Vista complaining that the shipped version is out. You also get a stable fast OS that will run all the .net 3.0 goodness. Not a bad option for a test PC.
Windows Server 2003 180 day trial: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/evaluation/trial/default.mspx
Visual Studio trial
Microsoft have of course outdone themselves with the Express editions of Visual Studio. And I'm sure these will include Visual WPF tools later on, but for now WPF programming is best done in Visual Studio from what I've been told.
Again if you don't have this already, Microsoft has 180 day trial for you:
Windows .net 3.0 SDK:
A must for developing applications in .net 3.0 is the SDK itself:
Visual Studio Extensions
The extensions for Visual Studio setup all the test projects, so rather than starting with empty projects you can start a new WPF project, which makes life that little bit easier.
The .net 3.0 Visual Studio extensions (RC1):
I'm more than interested in WPF than the rest of .net 3.0 at the moment, so here are a couple of tasters that I will be reading over the next few days/weeks also. I'm sure there is way more out there, but for now there is more than enough to get you started. I will be putting my own articles on this blog also, to hopefully go through some of the features in a simplified way.
Here is a nice article with an overview to what WPF is all about. There is no real detail, but it does help to get your head around what XAML will look like, and what WPF can do for you:
This site gives a good all round look at WPF, with plenty of code samples and tutorials to get you started (click on Download Code... for the files and tutorials):
Of course all the other .net 3.0 technologies are here too:
And one more link to the mother of information about WPF:
which can be found in your Windows SDK (hopefully this works on other machines):
I am due to be looking at a lot of this over the next few weeks and will share my findings. Enjoy!