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4/19/2007
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Microsoft Releases Betas Of New Visual Studio, .Net Framework

There are more than 200 new features in the new version of Visual Studio, most aimed at supporting the newest versions of Microsoft software, enhancing developer productivity, and driving team productivity.

Microsoft pushed a step toward the next generation of its popular Visual Studio development tool on Thursday by releasing the first beta version of Visual Studio "Orcas" and the .Net 3.5 framework. According to Microsoft, there are more than 200 new features in Orcas, most aimed at supporting the newest versions of Microsoft software, enhancing developer productivity, and driving team productivity.

Orcas includes a new graphical designer code-named "Cider" that targets XAML, a design language used by Vista's rich user interface technology called Windows Presentation Foundation. But that doesn't mean Orcas will create obsolescence for older features, as past versions have. Orcas will support not only the .Net 3.x framework, but older versions as well.

The .Net 3.5 framework, which will ship in its final version with Orcas, is a set of small but significant upgrades over the 3.0 version that shipped with Windows Vista. It includes deep integration of Language Integrated Query, or LINQ, which allows developers to create code that works extensively with relational databases and XML data because of support for the type of logic commonly used by databases. In the past, programming and data used to be two different islands for programmers. The new framework version also includes additional support for Ajax applications, some new tooling, and various additions to the framework's code library.

A big part of Orcas will be aimed at developer productivity. "We wanted to considerably move the bar here," said S. Somasegar, corporate VP of Microsoft developer division, in an interview. LINQ support is one move to that end, as is support for older versions of the .Net framework, support for .Net 3.x's distributed computing component called Windows Communication Foundation, and improved scalability and performance against Visual Studio 2005. One test of Orcas' scalability is and will be Somasegar's efforts to get Microsoft's commercial development tools to be used exclusively in the development of all Microsoft software.

Microsoft isn't giving specific guidance on when the final release of Orcas will be issued, though Somasegar said the company is adding in some additional programming scenarios and wants to make sure it gives ample time to react to feedback from beta testers. "What matters the most is, is it the right product, does it have the right set of experiences?" he said.

Sometime after the release of the updated Visual Studio, Microsoft aims to work on the next version of Visual Studio Team Edition, now code-named "Rosario." Rosario's aim is to break down software development silos that exist today, separating developers from the likes of product managers and testers. Rosario will do things like considerably beef up the current version's limited testing capabilities and integrate workflows by doing things like creating work item checklists to track development.

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