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A linker is needed for .NET

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Bird house

Joel Spolsky has hit the nail on the proverbial head again.

In this latest article, he bemoans the fact that, in order to run a C# application on your customer's machine, your customer must have the .NET run-time installed. All 22Mb of it. Yes, it's 'easy' to get (Windows Update will prompt to install it for you), but that's not the point really.

Suppose that, as his company Fog Creek Software does with CityDesk, you have small customers. One person, one family, a very small business. You'd like to provide a trial-run version of your latest oeuvre that's been written in C#, the one that will enrich their lives and make their business rocket. Your download is a few Mb in all, say 5 Mb. Piece of cake, no?

Actually, no. How many people have the .NET Framework installed? Not developers, mind you, but the average man on the Clapham omnibus? Virtually none, I would bet. Heck, I know that my wife's laptop doesn't have it on, and I installed everything on it! Why? Well it's a 20Mb+ download, that's why, and I can't be bothered to wait around while it installs.

Now I know that .NET will be pre-installed on new machines as part of XP or Longhorn, but that doesn't help today, it doesn't help tomorrow when the next version of the .NET Framework comes out. (Er. that's a figurative 'tomorrow,' not a literal one.)

So, Joel's request is for a linker for .NET. Excellent idea.

[Update: an old colleague of mine, Roy Salisbury, pointed me to this product that does some kind of linking work.