Microsoft kicked off a global launch for the latest major release of its flagship application development environment, Visual Studio 2010, with more than 150 developer-focused events around the world on April 12.
In addition to Visual Studio 2010 (VS2010), Microsoft announced the release of the .NET Framework 4 and said its Silverlight 4 rich Internet application development platform will release to Web (RTW) later in the week. Together these technologies enable developers steeped in the Microsoft way to create applications for a variety of platforms, including the desktop, the Web, the cloud and mobile devices, said Eddie Amos, general manager of developer platform and tools marketing at Microsoft, in an interview with eWEEK.
Microsoft will launch VS2010 and .NET 4 at the Microsoft Visual Studio Conference & Expo event in Las Vegas, which runs April 12-14.
"We're excited to celebrate the launch of Visual Studio 2010 with developers around the world today," said Bob Muglia, president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft, in a statement. "Customer and partner feedback was instrumental in shaping this release. The functionality of Visual Studio 2010, .NET Framework 4 and Silverlight 4 creates a powerful and unique combination, opening up new opportunities for developers to build applications that take advantage of new and existing devices, as well as emerging platforms like cloud services."
In addition, about 50 Microsoft partners, including Micro Focus, Quest Software, Telerik and Developer Express, announced availability of products and solutions built on this latest wave of technologies. With the 2010 release of Visual Studio, developers will have access to popular partner extensions earlier than ever, the company said.
However, Microsoft is releasing the technologies a little later than expected. Last December the company decided to add another interim release of the software to get more feedback from testers. Microsoft officials said the issue was ensuring that the tools platform could deliver maximum performance for developers.
"That was a big deal for us," Amos said. "We made a call to hold off. We could have shipped it, but we said let's make sure it's rock-solid from day one. We wanted the experience to be incredible, and it is."
Amos said Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 have something for every developer. The new editor, now using Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), delivers a more flexible, feature-rich environment that supports concepts such as the use of multiple monitors. This enables a developer to have one monitor with code, another with the user interface designer and yet another with database structure, Amos said.
Moreover, with support for the latest Microsoft releases, developers can use their existing skills to create more types of applications than ever. Built-in support for Windows 7 multitouch and "ribbon" interfaces enables developers to deliver rich, interactive applications to end users. And for the first time, developers have integrated access to SharePoint functionality into the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE), Amos said. Windows Azure tools make it easy to quickly develop, debug, test and deploy cloud applications from within the familiar Visual Studio environment.
In addition, built-in support for ASP.NET Model-View-Controller gives developers the flexibility to separately update the appearance and core business logic of Web applications. Windows Phone 7 developers will be able to build compelling mobile applications using Visual Studio with integrated phone design surfaces. And Silverlight 4 creates a whole new way to deliver applications that run inside and outside the browser, the company said.
For its part, .NET Framework 4 delivers additional support for industry standards, more language choice, new support for high-performance middle-tier applications including parallel programming, and side-by-side installation with .NET Framework 3.5. With the .NET Framework 4 Client Profile, the size of the runtime has been decreased by over 80 percent, making it easier for developers to get applications up and running faster.
And Silverlight 4 delivers media and business application capabilities that enable developers to deliver application experiences on or off the Web. New features in Silverlight 4 include extended out-of-browser capabilities, enhancements for enterprise application developers and more than 60 customizable prewritten controls to quickly build rich, interactive applications.
Amos said a key theme for VS2010 was simplicity. "We wanted to be able to allow developers to keep it simple, but dream big," he said, noting that the Microsoft tools story has been consistent for many years. That consistency enables the company to deliver tools and development platforms for developers that allow them to use what they are familiar with to create applications that can run across a variety of environments-from the cloud to mobile devices.
"A lot of the same components are in place, so developers can leverage the skills they have to build Web applications and other types of applications from within Visual Studio," Amos said. "We can enable them to optimize their code for the different platforms."
To address the growing complexity of software development, Visual Studio 2010 provides tools for the entire team. IntelliTrace, a "time machine" for developers and testers, makes nonreproducible bugs virtually a thing of the past by recording the application's execution history and providing reproduction of the reported bug, enabling the tester to help squash the bug once and for all. This is just one of the many new features that have been added to help with application lifecycle management (ALM), representing a quantum leap for anyone using the Visual Studio Team System products from 2005 or 2008, Amos said.
"Our customers rely on us to solve for the unique needs of their businesses, and in order to do that, we need tools and technologies that enable maximum efficiency, reliability, integration and creativity," said Peter Duffell, vice president of strategic partners at Micro Focus, in a statement. "Our next-generation developer tools build on the already-proven capabilities of Visual Studio, .NET Framework and Silverlight and expand the value to our customers even further."
"The enhanced testing features in Visual Studio 2010 automate the majority of common tasks and streamline the flow of information across our team," said Steve Schlonski, vice president of Global Technology and Offering Development at Xerox Global Services, in a statement. "This has led to a significant productivity increase; when you combine this with the ability to have a single unified view of project status, it dramatically drives down project risk."