Like a growing number of teams at Microsoft, the Visual Studio (VS) team is moving away from the every two- to three-year new release pace and iterating more quickly.
Late last year, just three months after Visual Studio 2012 was released to manufacturing, the VS team delivered test builds and then a final version of Visual Studio 2012 Update 1.
These VS Updates are not the same as traditional service packs. They include new features, not just bug fixes.
The Windows and Office teams are expected to adopt a similar, more rapid update model, in the coming months. The Dynamics CRM team (on both the CRM Online and CRM on-premises sides of the house) and the Windows Azure teams already have adopted this approach.
Visual Studio Update 2, known as VS2012.2, is available as of this week in downloadable CTP form. Not all of the final set of capabilities are in the CTP, officials said. But the CTP, likely to be the first of several, includes features like Office 2013 support; the incorporation of Blend for VS2012; work-item tagging; improved SharePoint load testing; support for Windows Phone app unit testing; improvements for Windows Store app testing and more.
Microsoft isn't providing a ship target date for the final version of VS 2012 Update 2. Company officials also aren't commenting on how many Visual Studio updates to expect every year, going forward.
"These updates are planned to be released year-round, with a goal of providing continuous value to customers, adding new capabilities to complement the main features in the product releases," a spokesperson said.
The Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 CTP is downloadable from Microsoft's site.