First look: Visual Studio 11 beta leaner, meaner for Metro
Metro-style development support and monochrome obsession are featured in Microsoft's all-encompassing Windows development tool
Visual Studio 11: Metro substance
Developers can debug Metro-style apps in several ways. You can run the app on your local machine, which works well if you have two or more displays, or on a remote machine or within a Metro simulator, which you will likely prefer if you have only one display. The simulator is intriguing in that it is actually a remote desktop session into your own machine. As a result, you can run any Metro app within a window on your desktop.
Once your Metro app is complete, you can use the new Store menu to create a developer account, capture screenshots, and create and upload an app package to Windows Store. Integrating all this into the IDE should make publishing apps easy and smooth for developers, though there is still an approval process to go through.
The big change in Team Foundation Server in this version is that Microsoft can host it for you on Windows Azure, with a new Team Foundation Service now in preview. This will be welcome news to shops that like the application lifecycle management system's rich features, but find it too complex to configure and maintain. Note, however, that some features of the on-premise version, such as SharePoint integration, are not included. Microsoft has recently announced a build service alongside the existing repository for source code, bug tracking, and work items. Pricing is not yet announced.
Unit testing is improved in this edition of Visual Studio. Visual Studio 11 adds support for third-party test frameworks, includes new test frameworks for Metro-style apps and for native C++ code, and provides a new Unit Test Explorer tool for running tests and analyzing the results.
Visual Studio 11: Odds and ends
Visual Studio 11 also includes a new toolkit and project type called LightSwitch, an earlier version of which was available as a separate product. Presented as a "tool for building business applications quickly," LightSwitch is an odd, ambitious, and ultimately perplexing product that uses a model-driven approach to building local or multi-tier database applications, generating most of the code for you. Unfortunately, it produces only Silverlight applications and lacks mobile support. It also fails in its goal of easing application builds for nonspecialists. It's a shame -- the concept behind LightSwitch is brilliant, but unless Microsoft can rework it into something more immediately useful, it's unlikely to have a long life.
Visual Studio 11 provides numerous project types for Metro-style apps, the new tablet-friendly runtime in Windows 8.