Microsoft rushes out early-bird release of Visual Studio 2013

Not 12 months after Visual Studio 2012's debut comes the follow-up; general availability expected later this year

Microsoft is breaking with its traditional two-year release cycle for its Visual Studio software development platform, with the introduction Monday of Visual Studio 2013 less than a year after the release of Visual Studio 2012.

Featuring capabilities for cloud-based load testing, team development, and devops, Visual Studio 2013 is due in a preview release form in a few weeks, with the general release expected at the end of the year. Key to Visual Studio 2013 are improvements to the Team Foundation Service cloud-based ALM platform.

With Visual Studio 2013, developers can see exactly what code team members are working on. Load testing, meanwhile, can be shifted to Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud platform. "You can use Azure to do the stress test," said Brad Anderson, corporate vice president in the server and tools division at Microsoft. "The change that many organizations face is trying to find enough capacity to really stress-test at high scale the software that you're building." Microsoft will be releasing new features including agile portfolio management, improved team collaboration, and cloud load-testing Monday on Team Foundation Service. Features of the service feed into the Visual Studio IDE.

Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond lauded the code-commenting capabilities in Visual Studio 2013. "The code-commenting functionality should help with those 'what was I thinking six months ago when we originally wrote this' moments," Hammond said. "It also opens up the door for a lot more context around individual function, although I'd like to see cues like the '# tests passing' automatically get reset when a function is modified."

For devops (development and operations), the 2013 release has been integrated with the Microsoft System Center IT management platform to make it easier to get code deployed by operations persons when problems arise. Microsoft wants to make devops a more seamless experience, Anderson said.

Microsoft is not emphasizing any new Web development or language features in the upgrade, just developer productivity, quality enhancements, and devops. In accelerating its release schedule, Microsoft is simply looking to increase its product cadence. "The features I've been briefed on are less about platform compatibility with things like Windows 8.1 and more focused on team collaboration and support for agile teams," Hammond noted.

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.