It's time to XAML ! If you have Windows XP and a fast Internet connection, you can start playing with WPF.
With any new technology, there are early adopters, there are late adopters, and there are those who only use what is preinstalled, preconfigured for them.
Generally, I wait until tools support any technology rather than use Notepad to explore the concepts and constructs. But waiting for the next version of Visual Studio and the Expression tools (the ones not released yet) does not preclude anyone from running xaml and learning about WPF.
There are several fine books out about WPF. I bought one (Chris Sells), have another on order (Adam Nathan, full-color illustrations and code coloring should make it easier to associate the xaml code and its rendering), and downloaded a prerelease "rough cuts" version (Chris Anderson).
Now that the .NET 3.0 framework has been officially released, I could have downloaded it. I tried an experiment to see what would happen.
I created a first.xaml
file using Notepad (this example is copied from the Chris Anderson book):
<Paragraph>Welcome to my document!</Paragraph>
I noticed the icon on the desktop had a WPF shield rather than an unknown file extension icon, so I double-clicked it and Windows XP offered to download the .NET framework. I clicked OK, the .NET Framework (3.0) was downloaded, and then IE7 launched and downloaded a little viewer and the text in the Paragraph tag was displayed in IE7 with a zoomable slider control in the lower right corner.
So now I can start playing with xaml examples and seeing the results until the Visual Studio team officially releases something official I won't have to uninstall.
For Windows Vista, with the .NET 3.0 Framework already installed, you can just double-click on a xaml file to view it (I expect that xaml will soon be standardized with no capital letters, or maybe just a capital X). IE7 will still need to download a little viewer before displaying the file.