Although the VS .NET 2003 release does not include a slew of new features, developers can look forward to increased functionality in the "Yukon" and subsequent releases Microsoft talked about in late August (see http://atomic.quilogy.com/default.aspx?storyId=everett for more details). Here, I'll list just a couple of the anticipated features.
ObjectSpaces. Although this technology was first previewed at PDC 2001 (see my articles on http://www.informit.com), it will not be included in Everett and most likely will make an appearance in the Yukon release. This technology is primarily an object-based mapping of relational data.
Factories. Because ADO.NET includes separate .NET Data Providers to access various data stores, it is sometimes difficult to write provider-independent code. Although this can be done by implementing your own ProviderFactory class using the Abstract Factory design pattern (see Chapter 18 of Teach Yourself ADO.NET in 21 Days), there will probably be classes that perform this functionality (for example, UniversalConnection, UniversalCommand, etc.).
DataTable Simplification. Although the ADO.NET programming model is fairly straightforward, Microsoft might also include an object that combines the functionality of the DataTable and data adapter to provide a quick way of populating and updating single tables in future releases.
Advanced Features. Of course, developers are always asking for many other features. Some of those that may find their way into future releases include bulk loading support, asynchronous retrieval, and extensions to the typed DataSets found in v1.0.