Microsoft Visual Studio Launches With Express Desktop SKU, Update 1 Due

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2012-09-12

Microsoft Visual Studio Launches With Express Desktop SKU, Update 1 Due

Microsoft formally launched its flagship Visual Studio 2012 tools suite and has already announced an update for the product, Visual Studio 2012 Update 1.

At a Sept. 12 launch event in Seattle, Microsoft officially announced VS2012 before an audience of hundreds of developers in-person and thousands more via Webcast.

Visual Studio 2012 and .NET 4.5 are the tools that form the backbone for developing on Windows 8. However, not only on Windows 8, but all of Microsoft's platforms, the company said. Meanwhile, Microsoft will be delivering VS2012 Update 1 by the end of this year as part of a new strategy to update its developer tools at a new, more rapid cadence, Microsoft said.

"Visual Studio 2012 is the best development tool to enable developers to build 'modern apps' for connected devices," Soma Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft's developer division, said in an interview with eWEEK. VS2012 supports development on Windows 8, Windows Server, Windows Azure and Windows Phone.

The new release of the toolset also supports team development and different methodologies like never before, Somasegar said. The application lifecycle management (ALM) capabilities in the product enable development teams "to operate and behave like a startup," he said. "We enable teams to adopt Agile methods, continuous feedback, quality, and continuous deployment and evolution," among other things, he added.

In addition, Somasegar said Microsoft has done of lot of work in the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE) because it is "home" to developers when they are building apps, and Microsoft wants them to be as comfortable as possible. For instance, Microsoft tweaked the VS2012 UI following feedback from developers. "We've done a lot of work in the IDE so that developers will be able to focus on what they need to focus on," Somasegar said.

For instance, Microsoft has enhanced the product's search capabilities. "Developers want to be able to easily search for a particular piece of code; so search is deeply integrated into the Solution Explorer," Somasegar said.

Somasegar said Visual Studio 2012 has seen more than 600,000 downloads since its release to the Web, making this the fastest adoption of Visual Studio in Microsoft's history.

Visual Studio 2012 Has Seen Over 600,000 Downloads Since Its Release to Web

"I think it's because Visual studio 2012 is a fantastic product," Somasegar quipped. Moreover, "developers are getting more and more excited about the platforms coming out of Microsoft," he added. "Developers see a huge opportunity for leveraging the new platforms, and the Windows Store is a big part of that." With the number of people running Windows north of 1.3 billion, Microsoft offers developers who choose to build apps for Windows 8 worldwide reach. Now that it has been released to manufacturing and the Windows Store is open for business, the message for developers is to "start building," Somasegar said in a recent blog post.

Indeed, the opportunity for Microsoft developers has never been better, Somasegar said. Microsoft is refreshing just about every piece of its platform in 2012, highlighted by Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, but also including new versions of Windows Azure, SharePoint and Windows Server. And Visual Studio 2012 and .NET 4.5 were built hand-in-hand with the refreshed platform, he said.

Meanwhile, Microsoft announced Visual Studio 2012 Update 1. With Visual Studio 2012, Microsoft will deliver continuous value to customers, adding new capabilities year-round. These update releases will be aligned with core software development trends in the market, ensuring developers and development teams always have access to the best solution for building modern applications. VS2012 Update 1 will offer new capabilities in four main categories, including added support of agile teams, continuous quality enablement, SharePoint and Windows development, and will be made available later this month as a preview and later this year as a final release, Somasegar said.

Microsoft also announced the availability of Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop. Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop extends the Visual Studio tools offering for desktop applications by providing developers with Express tools for building powerful Windows Desktop applications in C#, VB.NET and C++. This offering enables developers to get started on building Windows desktop applications quickly and for free. Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop becomes available Sept. 12.

Initially, developers were up in arms at the notion that Microsoft would not make a free Express version of a desktop tools solution available. However, Somasegar said Microsoft always intended to deliver an Express SKU for desktop development, but it was just a question of when it would happen. That time is now.

In addition, Microsoft announced F# Tools for Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web, which provides developers with a free add on with VS2012 that enables development of F# on ASP.NET, Azure and cloud. The F# Tools add-in will be available Sept. 12. And the new TFS Power Tools for Visual Studio 2012, also announced Sept. 12, provide development teams everything they need to get the most out of their Team Foundation Server 2012 installation, including advanced backup tools, extensions for Windows Explorer as well as PowerShell, and a process template editor. TFS Power Tools will be available for download Sept. 12. Also, the newly announced Productivity Power Tools for Visual Studio 2012 are a set of enhancement, tools and command-line utilities that help developers accomplish tasks more efficiently. The Productivity Power Tools will be available for download in October 2012.

Microsoft also announced new Support for Windows Embedded. Windows Embedded Compact development is now fully supported in Visual Studio 2012, including access to ALM capabilities. These improvements will be available with the next version of Windows Embedded Compact, which is scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2013.

Microsoft is seeing strong ecosystem support, as well. The company announced that Visual Studio 2012 is launching, with 72 partners delivering more than 100 products at launch. And new Community Language Packs for VS2012 enable developers to view the UI in their local language. Visual Studio 2012 is launching today with 10 local languages available.

Microsoft also is offering promotions for developers purchasing the product. Any customer with an active Visual Studio Professional with MSDN subscription, purchased prior to Sept. 1, 2012, is eligible for discounts.

Overall, Visual Studio 2012 contains hundreds of new features. The Visual Studio team embraced the design language appearing across Microsoft's products to give users a more modern experience, and simplified graphics make for fewer distractions. They added productivity features such as debugging tools and a code clone analyzer, a tool that helps locate duplicated code sections. A comprehensive search capability enables developers to quickly find what they're looking for across commands and configuration options, tool windows and open files, Microsoft said. And new workflow "hubs" combine common tasks into one simplified window.

Another big change is Visual Studio 2012's support for a range of programming languages and models. "Developers want to go where they have choice," Somasegar said. "So one of the things we've done in Visual Studio 2012 is work closely with our platform partners, particularly Windows 8, to make sure we provide freedom and choice." That means JavaScript, C#, Visual Basic, Python, F# and C++ are all supported.

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