The latest version of Microsoft's integrated development environment, Visual Studio 2012, officially will be released Wednesday. It follows reliably on the two-year heartbeat of new Visual Studio releases. Unlike previous versions that simply refined--although sometimes substantially--the developer experience, this release has a different primary purpose: enabling development of Windows 8 applications for the many platforms and two processor families the new operating system runs on. In this regard, there can be no denying the substantial amount of new technology delivered in the package. (The Ultimate Edition now tips in at more than 8 GB.) For Windows 8 development, this is a must-get upgrade.
Developers remaining on current versions of the operating system will find many useful new features, although one of them is unlikely to be the user interface. The design and layout of the interface are explained in the review, and developers wishing to upgrade will need to assess carefully whether switching to the Metro-style UX is something they are willing to accept to access the new functionality.
The UX aside--and that is a major item to disregard--we were generally impressed with the new functionality, but disappointed that Microsoft continues to ship key products with many small problems that make life unnecessarily difficult for its customers. We'll get into these in the body of the review. Although Visual Studio 2012 Ultimate Edition debuts this week, the bits have been available for a few weeks on the MSDN website. This review is based on those bits. A companion article by Dino Esposito explores ASP and Web technologies used in Windows 8 that were released in this package.