The Next Big Thing

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2007-03-22 Print this article Print

For the professional developer, Microsoft is working on "Orcas," the next major release of the Visual Studio tool set, due out later in 2007. Somasegar said it will be the best tool set for Windows Vista and Office 2007. Highlights will include a new Windows Presentation Foundation Designer, greater support for database tools, support for LINQ (Language Integrated Query) and enhanced support for AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) development.
Click here to read more about why Vista matters to developers.
Somasegar also touted new hires Microsoft has brought into the developer division to help court the full spectrum of development. Among them is Andrew Kass, general manager of VSTS (Visual Studio Team System), Microsofts team development platform that targets the overall ALM (application lifecycle management) phenomenon and has Microsoft competing with the likes of IBMs formidable Rational business unit. Though Rational has a huge head start, dont count Microsoft out, Kass said. "We want to focus on how software development might change over the next 10 years," Kass said. "And as corny as this sounds, I think [VSTS] is a way for us to change the world. I bought into it, and I really believe this is the one company that can do it." "As a platform for integrating practitioners tools, Team System is very strong," said Carey Schwaber, an analyst with Forrester Research. "Its main limitations are platform support, of course, though Microsoft partners have extended its reach in this area." In terms of the support that Team System itself offers for roles such as tester or business analyst, "its still lacking," Schwaber said. "This is pretty well understood—by Microsoft, by its customers and prospects, and by its competitors. I think its clear that Microsoft will resolve this in the long term." "Testing is so ad hoc today," Kass said. "The tools out there are difficult to use and fairly unsophisticated. Theyre not super accessible, and the end result is that … testing and quality is generally an afterthought." Testing and requirements management are two areas of focus for Microsoft in the Team System tool set, and ALM will continue to be a focus of many companies and partners. However, he said, its a big market. "Theres room for multiple players. I hope to continue to partner with people who do pieces that we dont do." Microsoft is working on an Orcas release of Visual Studio Team System that Somasegar referred to as a "dot release," in which Microsoft takes the next step forward with the product. But it will be the post-Orcas releases that begin to advance VSTS in ways that make it more competitive with tools such as those in IBMs Rational line. Although Kass would not recognize the existence of a code name for the first post-Orcas release, other Microsoft officials have said its being called "Rosario." It will be a bigger release than Orcas and will feature advanced integration into project management, project planning and portfolio management, among other things. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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