Sources close to the company said the beta software should be available for download by the end of next week. More and more of the Visual Studio Team System will find its way into Visual Studio 2005 in future releases, sources said.
Meanwhile, Microsoft will announce Express versions of its popular tools, including Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition for building Web sites and Web services; Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition, which is aimed at helping beginners learn to program; Visual C# 2005 Express Edition, Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition and Visual J# 2005 Express Edition, for students and hobbyist developers; and SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, a lightweight version of SQL Server, also for students and hobbyist types.
In addition, Microsoft will release the MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) Product Feedback Center, which the company code-named Ladybug. The MSDN Product Feedback Center will serve as a suggestion box and bug database for developers to send information about Microsofts tools and products, beginning with Visual Studio 2005 and the .Net Framework 2.0, sources said.
The Ladybug bug-logging system, while public, is targeted specifically at developers, as opposed to typical end users. The technology has roots in the Watson crash/hang reporting system. Ladybug is part of Microsofts campaign to gather information that goes beyond the usual Windows and Office crash/hang reports from its various customer bases.
Theresa Lanowitz, an analyst at Gartner Inc., of Stamford, Conn., called the Microsoft Visual Studio Team System announcement "strong" following its launch at the Microsoft conference in San Diego.
In an interview following the conference, Lanowitz told eWEEK: "With this announcement, Microsoft is legitimizing the whole concept of the application development life cycle and getting people to think in terms of the whole application—from the line of business requirements to production. Microsoft understands the developer better than any other software vendor. If they can get those at the coding level to start thinking about software quality earlier in the life cycle, i.e., unit testing, that is a huge victory for the ultimate customer."
Meanwhile, Microsoft has experience developing tools for hobbyists. Two years ago Microsoft posted its ASP.Net Web Matrix tool for download, describing the free tool as a "community-supported" design tool for hobbyists rather than for professional developers. ASP.Net is Microsofts platform for developing .Net Web applications. ASP.Net is part of the Microsoft .Net Framework.
Microsoft Watchs Mary Jo Foley contributed to this report.