I also think that rab36 is right on the money. I use C++ for a lot of performance based projects that are consumed by .NET projects, many dealing with video, graphics, multimedia, etc. A large majority of these projects would have been better suited being all C++, but with a need for a large amount of (consistant) tooling and libraries, these projects have been .NET centric. It always comes to a line in the sand that a team must choose between productivity (libs and tooling) and performance. I want to believe we can have both.
If I'm reading some of the hints on the VC++ blog correctly about "bringing native to parity with managed", maybe this is where you guys are going. I cry a little each time a customer has a large C++ codebase and they have to pull in a CLR dependency just to create a rich UI. I think there is a huge desire for a modern "high level [rich] UI" for native developers. Not having one, IMO, has seriously stunted the growth of high performance, rich consumer applications on the Windows desktop. If there is a high level rich UI in the works, one should only worry with, "How high level?" Nothing limits the ability of UI platform more than being "too retained" (see: WPF/SL) and/or "too slow at rendering" (see: WPF/SL). In other words, let the developer choose if they wish to participate in how (immediate mode hooks) the UI is rendered.
I am truely excited to see what you guys have in store. I think you guys got a tough job ahead after a decade of downplaying C++ by upselling .NET...but I have a blog ready to sing praises if my current excitment ends up matching reality