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Visual Studio 2008 Now Available For Purchase

Microsoft's software development package was released a month ahead of a high-profile event in Los Angeles meant to serve as the product's official launch.

Microsoft on Tuesday made its Visual Studio 2008 software development package widely available for purchase -- a month ahead of a high-profile event in Los Angeles meant to serve as the product's official launch.

The event, which Microsoft is calling "Heroes Happen Here," was to serve as the formal unveiling of Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008, as well as Visual Studio 2008.

However, the early release of the latest version of Visual Studio -- along with the fact that Microsoft last week conceded that SQL Server 2008's release is delayed until the fall -- threatens to make the event anticlimactic.

Still, Microsoft is likely more concerned about sales of its new products -- and shipping Visual Studio 2008 early could to a small extent offset the SQL Server 2008 delay's impact on the company's books. Microsoft's fiscal year ends in June -- before the new ship date for SQL Server 2008.

Visual Studio is an integrated development environment that gives programmers a range of tools from which to create applications for Microsoft's Windows operating system and the Web.

Microsoft says the 2008 edition offers a number of key enhancements over its predecessor, Visual Studio 2005. Among them: tools that let developers build applications with versions 2.0, 3.0, and 3.5 of the .Net programming environment; improved HTML editors and cascading style sheets; and tools for developing programs that work with the latest version of Microsoft Office.

The full Professional Edition of Visual Studio 2008 sells for about $730. The Standard Edition is priced at about $270. The software is now available from retailers and Web merchants, and as a download directly from Microsoft.

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