The MSDN Subscriptions Weblog is telling us that Visual Studio 2008 will be available to subscribers early next week. Darryl Taft of eWeek has some additional information about the VS 2008 release with a supposed date of November 19th.
Visual Studio 2008 has a number of features that will be beneficial for RIA developers on the Microsoft platform. First and foremost, Visual Studio 2008 has full support for creating WPF applications for Vista and XP. Visual Studio 2008 adds support for editing XAML and enhances the designer/developer workflow between VS and Blend. Perhaps more importantly is the support for Silverlight in Visual Studio 2008. The Silverlight tools are available as an add-on for Visual Studio 2008. It won't be built into VS 2008 presumably because the tools will change when Silverlight 1.1 is released (I'm taking bets that it will actually be called Silverlight 2.0).
By most accounts, Visual Studio 2008 is an impressive IDE. It builds off of the strengths of Visual Studio 2005 and adds support for the next generation of the platform. The bulk of that next generation consists of RIA technologies. In some ways, this is the first RIA editor for the Microsoft platform.