Hushed mutterings around the MSDN’s many chambered portals this afternoon confirm that today is in fact the launch of Visual Studio 2010 and the .NET Framework 4 Beta 2 to MSDN subscribers. General availability apparently follows the day before Thursday’s official Windows 7 launch on October 21 and the final product is now expected on 22 March 2010.
In what is effectively a channel-driven announcement, Microsoft is trying to extol the virtues of what it describes as a “newly simplified” product lineup and pricing options.
As such, VS 2010 is being presented in the following three editions: Ultimate (a team based product with increased focus on collaboration), Premium (styled for what Microsoft calls high quality scalable applications) and Professional (for more basic software development needs).
Upfront in terms of new technologies being tabled are new testing options by virtue of enhancements to the IDE that that are said to allow developers to use existing skills to deploy applications whether their focus and experience lies in modeling, coding, testing or debugging.
Sniffing around the edge of this news this afternoon as I was, I had a conversation with Microsoft’s principal program manager lead for developer customer management Jeff Beehler to try and get a feel for what has really happened in between the Beta 1 and Beta 2 timeframes.
“Performance of Visual Studio 2010 is considerably better in Beta 2 than in Beta 1. We focused on platform improvements to help in scenarios such as sluggishness over remote desktop connections and within virtual environments as we knew that these were common configurations for our early adopters. Customers who have picked up interim drops of Visual Studio 2010 between Beta 1 and Beta 2 have commented positively, without prompting, about the improvements,” said Microsoft’s Beehler.
So what else is new in .NET Framework 4? There’s drag and drop bindings for Silverlight and WPF, built-in tools for Windows 7, SharePoint and new support for high performance middle-tier applications (including parallel programming, workflow and service oriented applications) and backward compatibility through side-by-side installation with .NET Framework 3.5.
Microsoft hopes the big draw will be its “Ultimate Offer” – an incentive where active MSDN Premium subscribers will be transitioned to a higher-level Visual Studio 2010 with MSDN subscription at launch.
According to Microsoft, “This provides access to an unprecedented amount of resources including test and development rights for Microsoft server software (including Windows Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008), Microsoft Office, and premium Visual Studio tools.”
I glossed over the point in my first paragraph here, but they key part of this news for many may be the March 2010 full product availability date. What happens between now and then is anybody’s guess – in fact, I’d love to know more about what happens between now and then, the trouble is… the doors are usually fairly tightly sealed while the special sauce simmers away right?