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The board of the 14-year-old .NET Developer Association in Redmond sent a message to its members last night proposing a six-month break in activities to figure out how to revitalize the group — citing a general lack of interest from members, sponsors and speakers, even from Microsoft.

The timing is notable. Coincidentally, Microsoft is preparing to release a new version of Windows that opens the platform up to web developers by making it possible to use HTML 5 and JavaScript to write new “Metro-style apps” for Windows PCs. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview, launching later this month, will feature a new Windows Store to distribute these new apps.

Traditional Microsoft .NET developers will also be able to use those tools and languages to write Metro-style apps, but Microsoft’s decision to open the door to HTML5 and JavaScript reflects a broader shift in the industry toward web development technologies, driven in part by the rise of mobile devices.

In its message to members, the board of the .NET Developer Association was careful to point out it’s not proposing to shut the group down permanently. We’ve reached out to both the board and Microsoft for comment. Here’s the full text of the message.

Dear Members—

As many of you have no doubt noticed, many of the .NET Developer Association meetings have been canceled recently. As the members of your board, we feel the pain of the cancellations keenly and we share with you the frustration at not having those meetings.

Quite frankly, we think it’s time to take a break.

We’ve been having serious difficulties lining up people to speak and unfortunately we’ve not found others within the local community to volunteer their time on the board to help. We feel that a general malaise within the community—both the local one here in Redmond as well as a wider community as a whole—lies partly to blame. We have debated moving to once-a-month meetings, but even at that pace we still cannot find people willing to take the time to stand before the membership and present material that is interesting to our membership, even from within Microsoft itself. We have asked the membership to give us feedback on the topics they would find interesting, to little response. We have tried contacting sponsors within the local community, but aside from Microsoft’s donation of their meeting room facilities, we have had little success in enticing recruiters or vendors beyond the usual “pile of swag” for us to hand out at meetings.

We, your board, find ourselves running out of ideas, growing frustrated, and generally finding ourselves at a loss how to proceed. So, we have come to the somewhat radical suggestion of simply taking a break for a period of time, six months, while we look for ways to revitalize the group. It is our hope that the time away will help the community as a whole as well.

Please note that we are not suggesting that the group be permanently disbanded, nor that this is the only solution. If others within the group wish to see the group continue to meet on a monthly basis, we are not opposed to others accepting positions on the board and taking over leadership responsibilities.

Should you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me ( or any of the other board members.

We will hold one more meeting this Monday, February 13th, to discuss this, and assuming there are no volunteers to take on leadership roles we will announce our return details at that time.

Previously: Lessons from Om Nom: How ‘Cut the Rope’ shows the future of Windows and the web

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