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WPF vs Windows Forms

September 5, 2007

Josh Smith started a discussion with: WPF vs Windows Forms.  Matt Davey replied with WPF vs Windows Forms.  Doug Finke also chimed in with: Why use WPF?

If you look at System.Windows.Forms.dll in .Net 3.5, I don’t think there are many changes from 2.0 (I’m not positive about this though)…so while there will be enhancements to the .Net framework and VS that benefit WinForms developers, eventually our goal is to make WPF, the tools around it and the community around those a more than sufficient replacement for Windows Forms.  How soon we get there for you will depend on your task at hand…

For now, you should rest certain that Windows Forms or WPF can both be good choices and depend on the application you are targeting.


From → WPF

  1. Scott permalink

    Think of WPF as an expansion pack (gaming terms) to .NET 2.0, you can use both but extend the UX story further with WPF. WPF and Winforms are like an onion, the core layer is Winforms 2.0 (go nuts, build enjoy and embrace) then the outer layer is WPF, XAML, UX..3D go nuts enjoy!.

    Scott Barnes
    Developer Evangelist

  2. Josh permalink

    So what is the official word from Microsoft on the future of Windows Forms, now that WPF is released?  I\’ve read and heard several conflicting answers to this question, but am not sure what to believe.  Has Microsoft published a statement in this regard?  If not, I think they should.  It\’s a very common question and concern amongst WinForms devs.
    Josh Smith 

  3. Carlos permalink

    Let\’s be honest here, what\’s the point in anyone adopting WPF? 3 years ago Microsoft said Windows Forms was the pinnacle of development for Windows – MFC was dead. Now they are saying WPF is the pinnacle of development for Windows – Windows Forms is dead. In three years they will hype something else and say that WPF is dead. There\’s no point in committing resources to anything Microsoft puts out, they abandon their technology as soon as they need to make another quick buck.

  4. Josh permalink

    You don\’t have to adopt WPF.  There are plenty of people out there still using MFC and VB6 to create UIs.  I think the issue is, when will you users/customers start to expect that your applications have a modern look-and-feel; which happens to be much easier to create in WPF?  If never, then you\’re all set.  However, as time goes on the average user\’s expectations rise.  WPF is there to help us meet those needs.
    Josh Smith

  5. Florian permalink

    If you want to use crisp, aliased text, use WinForms. If you want to have crazy fun with databinding, use WPF 🙂

  6. Rob permalink

    Jeff Brand writes his thoughts here: 
    Josh – I\’ll reply in a bit… 

  7. Rob permalink

    Our guidance remains that WindowsForms has a 3rd generation form designer, more controls built in, and a community of developers who have been using it for 5-6 years.  As such, those advantages will speak loudly when compared to WPF today.
    WPF offers more flexibility and will be able to close the gap with tools support, controls and community.
    We\’ve done work to enable integration of WPF inside of WindowsForms and vice-versa with ElementHost and WindowsFormsHost from WindowsFormsIntegration.  WindowsForms and WPF developers get benefit from many investments in .Net 3.5 and VS 2008 equally.
    I believe System.Windows.Forms.dll will have much less work done on it from now on…but I imagine that if customers told us that they needed a ton of things there, that they were blocked with, we would consider doing some work there.
    We will lead into the future with WPF & Silverlight…both Xaml based, both using VS + Expression.  As I said earlier, what is right for you is going to depend.  Our big bets remain on .Net, Xaml, VS + Expression.  When the WPF or Silverlight side of the equation is right for you will depend on your skill sets, release timeframes, patience for early tools and platform, and what you are trying to build.
    Perhaps this deserves a more formal exploration and explanation…let me know if I am confusing the issue more than helping here.

    Thanks, Rob
    Rob Relyea | Program Manager, WPF & Xaml Language | /blog | /wpf | /xaml

  8. Josh permalink

    Thanks Rob.  That clarifies a lot for me. I think this message needs to be given greater public visibility, to help more people understand the direction MS is taking.  There seems to be a lot of curiosity/haziness around this issue.
    Josh Smith

  9. Mark permalink

    The degree to which Microsoft has become afflicted with "shiny object syndrome" has become truly absurd. WinForms has evolved into an extremely robust client-side development platform in a (relatively) short period of time, but it has issues today – namely with deployment, startup times, etc. And yet, already Microsoft is hoping to abandon WinForms in favor of yet another "exciting new technology."Please, Microsoft – focus resources on making Windows Forms a more viable platform for getting desktop software into user\’s hands before you shift your all your resources to the "next big thing." I\’m still using MFC / C++ today because you haven\’t addressed these core issues.

  10. Unknown permalink

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