A (Microsoft) Code Name a Day: Nautilus

Today's Microsoft codename of the day is "Nautilus." Yes, as in shell. The Visual Studio shell, to be exact.

I'm resuming my Microsoft Code Name a Day series that I started in December 2006. The goal: To provide the back story, each day in August, on one of Microsoft's myriad code names. Some of these code names might be familiar to Microsoft watchers; others (hopefully) will be brand-new.

Microsoft code names offer some great clues about the Redmondians’ development priorities, not to mention a better understanding of which future Microsoft products fit together, from a strategy standpoint. And not every product group is moving to boring, numbered codenames (like Windows 7 and Office 14).

Without further ado, let the codename games begin.

Microsoft code name of the day: Nautilus

Microsoft code name of the day: Nautilus

Best guess on what it is: The Visual Studio shell, which is a streamlined development environment for Visual Studio partners

Meaning/context of the code name: For once, no obscure references here. A nautilus is a shell and/or marine animal with a shell.

Back story: When I first heard the "Nautilus" code name a few years back, all I knew was it was part of the Visual Studio tool suite. Some sources said it was the core of the suite. I should have just thought about the code name: The shell is Nautilus; Nautilus is a shell.

In June, Microsoft officially announced a program to license the Visual Studio 2008 Shell to interested Visual Studio Integration Partners (VSIPs). It's available in "integrated mode" (for programming language vendors) and "isolated mode" for developers of specialized tools. By integrating the VS shell into their products, partners can make their offerings look and work in a way that's more consistent and better integrated with Visual Studio.

Microsoft will deliver subsequent versions of the Visual Studio shell in conjunction with future Visual Studio releases.

Additional info: Microsoft made an early version of the shell available for download this summer. The final shell release will be free, part of the Visual Studio software development kit. Building and deploying applications based on the Visual Studio Shell will be royalty-free, according to Microsoft.

Got a Microsoft code name you’ve been wondering about? Send it my way and I’ll do my best to track down some leads on what it might be.

And if you want to keep track of the full month's worth of Microsoft code names I end up posting, bookmark this "Microsoft Codenames" page. You can also check out this video-whiteboard I did recently on Microsoft codenames.