A leaner, meaner Visual Studio 2010 Release Candidate expected later this week

Microsoft is poised to release the near-final Release Candidate (RC) test build of Visual Studio 2010 later this week, according to a mention on February 8 on a Microsoft development blog. The Softies are promising a leaner, meaner development suite, with the RC -- the last test build before VS2010 launches in April.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is poised to release the near-final Release Candidate (RC) test build of Visual Studio 2010 later this week, according to a mention on February 8 on a Microsoft development blog. The RC should be a lot leaner and better performing than the previous test builds, according to other blog posts from the company.

Update: The VS2010/.Net 4 RC is out, as of the evening of February 8. Microsoft is now confirming it. MSDN subscribers can get it immediately, and the public, as of February 10.

News about this week's RC is mentioned in passing at  the top of the post on the Visual Studio Lab Management Team Blog, It's not too big a surprise, given that  Microsoft officials said late last year to expect the RC of VS2010 in February 2010.

(Microsoft is slated to launch VS2010 on April 12. The final version of the product is expected to ship on or around that date.)

The RC build of VS2010 was not originally part of the VS2010 development plan. Microsoft officials said late last year they'd decided to add one more public test build in order to be able to iron out some of the performance-related problems testers were reporting with Microsoft's next version of its development tool suite. I've heard and received quite a few complaints about the Beta 2 version of VS2010.

Microsoft execs have acknowledged publicly the problems with VS2010. Just today, I read a February 7 blog post from a member of the Visual Studio Quality Assurance team, Kirill Osenkov, that explained succinctly some of the problems with the product:

"During Beta 1 and Beta 2 it became painfully obvious that the new VS had an obesity problem: it was slow, consumed a lot of memory and the worst thing, with enough modules loaded it stopped fitting into the 2GB address space on 32-bit machines.... In a nutshell, with a lot of new functionality a lot more modules were loaded into memory. Besides, we now had to fully load the CLR (Common Language Runtime) and WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) at application startup. Moreover, there were all kinds of memory leaks all over the place."

Microsoft subsequently formed a virtual "Perf SWAT" team to focus on remedying performance, memory consumption and design-time stress with VS2010, Osenkov noted. He said that team has made progress. From his blog post:

"The good news is that we've made tremendous progress since Beta 2 and have brought the product into a much better state: it is much faster, more responsive, takes up much less memory and we also hope to have eliminated all major known memory leaks. A common complaint was that VS was growing in memory during usage and you had to restart it after a certain time. Right now we hope that you can mostly keep Visual Studio open for days (even weeks) without having to restart it."

Microsoft also has made some changes to the first-launch-after-install sequence for VS2010, which testers will see as of the RC.

One Microsoft partner, who requested anonymity, said he believed Visual Studio 2010 may end up being just a step along the path toward a more solid, next-generation VS release (a VS 2010/.Net 4.5 or whatever it ends up being called.) The VS folks are facing problems the Windows team knows all too well, he said, further explaining:

"Microsoft is simply feeling the pains of dealing with 20+ year old code bases. Vista was ultimately a step on the way to Windows 7, and the same thing may happen here, though I fervently hope not.  I have to believe a pattern is developing here, though, and Microsoftwould do well to start cleaning up their codebase (as with MinWin and the Win 7 kernel) or starting over from scratch more often (Windows Mobile 7, we hope)."

Microsoft is positioning Visual Studio 2010 as its tool platform to support Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Azure, SQL Server, Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010. The four versions of the suite are slated to include new drag and drop bindings for Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation; built-in support for building ASP.NET MVC (Model View Controller) 2.0 applications, better multicore support and UML support, among other new features.

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