Microsoft ships Visual Studio 2008

Accompanying .Net Framework 3.5 also available for download to MSDN subscribers now with disk versions to be offered in the next few weeks

Microsoft has released to manufacturing its Visual Studio 2008 software development platform and the accompanying .Net Framework 3.5, meaning these technologies are available for download on MSDN to subscribers today, the company said Monday.

The products will be offered on disk within the next few weeks. Trial subscriptions also are available now. Visual Studio 2008 and .Net Framework 3.5 are accessible on MSDN.

Among other things, Visual Studio 2008 is Microsoft's development platform geared to building Windows Vista applications. During a recent conference, difficulties with building Vista applications with the existing Visual Studio 2005 platform were cited by an attendee, who was assured that the solution is to upgrade to Visual Studio 2008.

Microsoft is touting Visual Studio 2008 as a platform for professional developers as well as hobbyists and teams.

"I am incredibly proud to be a part of the team that is truly advancing the state of developer tools," said S. "Soma" Somasegar, Microsoft corporate vice president for the company's developer division, in his blog on Monday.

"We hope that Visual Studio 2008 and .Net Framework 3.5 enables you as an individual or as a team to build great applications. Whether you are a professional developer or a software enthusiast, are building applications for the client, server, Web, or devices, we hope you have fun with these products as your software is our passion," Somasegar said.

Microsoft with Visual Studio 2008 is offering enhancements in every edition of the product, including Visual Studio Express for hobbyists and Visual Studio Team System for team-based development. With more than 250 new features, Visual Studio 2008 includes such improvements as visual designers to speed development with .Net Framework 3.5 and upgrades to Web development tools and language enhancements, the company said.

A highlight of particular interest is LINQ (Language Integrated Query), which the company said closes the gap between programming objects and data. Developers can focus on what they need the data to do rather than on how to access it, the company said. Microsoft is positioning LINQ as a technology for rapid application development.

"LINQ is the star," said Greg DeMichillie, lead analyst for application platforms at Directions on Microsoft. LINQ makes it easier to tie together C# or Visual Basic with SQL, he said.

"Everything else in Visual Studio 2008 is useful to some set of developers or another, but LINQ hits the entire spectrum of developers," he said.

Also included in Visual Studio 2008 are advanced development tools and debugging features, Microsoft said. Developers can target multiple versions of the .Net Framework, including versions 2.0, 3.0, and 3.5, and build AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) -enabled Web applications.

Tools are featured to speed development of connected applications on platforms, including the Web, Vista, Office 2007, the SQL Server 2008 database, and Windows Server 2008. Web developers can leverage ASP.Net and other technologies.

New ASP.Net controls allow for better page management and templates. Web development is boosted through new support for Web server communication techniques for AJAX/JSON-enabled Web sites.

.Net Framework 3.5 is intended to enable rapid construction of connected applications; it offers pre-fabricated software for solving common programming tasks. Web 2.0, SOA, and software-and-services applications are supported in version 3.5.

Included in.Net Framework 3.5 are enhancements to the base library, Windows Workflow Foundation; Windows Communication Foundation for Web services; Windows Presentation Foundation for presentation; and Windows CardSpace, for digital identities.

WCF supports native REST (Representational State Transfer) and RSS and backs multiple Web services specifications. These include

Web Services Atomic Transactions 1.1, WS-ReliableMessaging 1.1, WS-SecureConversation, and WS-Coordination 1.1.

Visual Studio Team System 2008, meanwhile, is an application lifecycle management system with tools, processes, and guidance. It supports management of application builds.

Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Foundation Server (TFS) is a collaboration server for Visual Studio Team System. Featured in the 2008 edition of TFS are: Improved performance and security; support for such configurations as clusters, mirrors, and virtual machines; continuous integration; and scheduled builds. Also highlighted in TFS are version control features, query build improvements, and Web access to version control, work item tracking, and status reports.

Microsoft used TFS to manage this release of Visual Studio 2008. "TFS enables process enactment, collects a lot of data, and enables reporting on it. It provides visibility to everyone and it enables enforcement of certain things," Somasegar said.

But DiMichillie described improvements to TFS as minor. TFS lags behind the competition in areas like testing, he said.

Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition costs $799 for new buyers and $549 to upgrade from the previous release. Team Foundation Server costs $2,799; upgrades cost $499.

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