Microsoft Launches Visual Studio Online, VS2013, .NET 4.5.1

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-11-13

Microsoft Launches Visual Studio Online, VS2013, .NET 4.5.1

NEW YORK—Responding to an ever-growing need for enhanced development capabilities, Microsoft officially launched Visual Studio 2013 (VS2013) and .NET 4.5.1, along with a potent new set of software development services known as Visual Studio Online and an innovative new lightweight coding environment in the browser known simply by the code name "Monaco."

Microsoft announced all this at its Visual Studio 2013 Launch Event here Nov.13, featuring key Microsoft developer leaders including S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of the company's Developer Division; Scott Guthrie, a corporate vice president in Microsoft's Server and Tools Business division; and Brian Harry, a Microsoft technical fellow working as the product unit manager for Team Foundation Server, among others.

In an interview with eWEEK, Somasegar said Microsoft's moves with these new developer tools and services are based on the company's belief that developers lie at the center of the ongoing transition to devices and services that Microsoft officials have bet their company on.

eWEEK has in the past detailed much of what is new in VS20113. Visual Studio Online, meanwhile, is a set of development services and offerings running on Windows Azure that helps development teams create next-generation applications, Somasegar said. It is part of Microsoft's Cloud OS vision.

"If you are an individual developer, this gives you a set of capabilities you never had before," Somasegar told eWEEK.

Visual Studio has evolved over the years, Somasegar said. "Starting with an integrated developer environment for the desktop, Visual Studio expanded to also include team development capabilities on the server with Team Foundation Server," he said. "We are now taking the next step, extending the Visual Studio IDE with a collection of developer services, hosted in Azure, which offers the best integrated end-to-end development experience for modern applications."

Visual Studio Online provides easy access to application lifecycle management (ALM) capabilities across teams to support rapid application deployment and fast iteration of applications through learning insights. Visual Studio Online is free for teams of up to five users, and as a benefit of Visual Studio with Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscriptions. It is also available through monthly subscriptions.

Overall, Visual Studio Online enables developers to do the following:

-- Take team collaboration to the cloud, making it dramatically easier for teams to embrace agile application development and delivery.

-- Enhance the individual development experience by extending tools through additional cloud services and development capabilities.

-- Bring agility to application delivery — from development to deployment to improvement, often referred to as DevOps.

-- Enable continuous delivery to Windows Azure in addition to monitoring and learning about their applications.

Indeed, Microsoft announced the availability of a broad range of developer services as part of Visual Studio Online. Several services that have been available in Team Foundation Service are now in public preview as part of Visual Studio Online, including hosted source control, work item tracking, collaboration and a build service. And the elastic load testing service Microsoft released in limited preview earlier this year is also now available in public preview as part of Visual Studio Online.

Visual Studio Online provides developers with hosted source control, using either Git or Team Foundation Version Control (TFVC). The sources for Visual Studio Online projects are readily available to sync to users' desktop when logged into Visual Studio, Somasegar said. It also features tools to support agile development processes, with work items and agile planning.

The online version's hosted build service enables developers to move their project's builds to the cloud, and build results are available in both Visual Studio Online and Visual Studio 2013. Every Visual Studio Online account provides 60 minutes of free build time per month, making it friction-free to get started with hosted build, Somasegar said.


Microsoft Launches Visual Studio Online, VS2013, .NET 4.5.1

Performance and load testing are key pieces of the application lifecycle, enabling validation and analysis of the behavior of the application under load. With the Visual Studio Online load testing service, scalability can be offloaded to the cloud, as developers enjoy an integrated experience in the IDE for managing and running load tests. The elastic load test service is available in public preview starting today. Visual Studio Ultimate subscribers get 15,000 virtual user minutes per month as part of their subscriptions.

In addition, a new service known as Application Insights enables teams to support agile application delivery across an organization by providing visibility into how an application runs and is being used by customers, Somasegar said. Application Insights collects live telemetry data across development, test and production environments and captures availability, performance and usage data, providing development teams with a 360-degree view of an application's health. More than just a monitoring and analytics tool, Application Insights connects this actionable application data to the rest of the development lifecycle.

The Application Insights service is available in limited preview, with initial support for .NET and Java applications running on Windows Server and Windows Azure, as well as Web and Windows Phone 8 applications, Somasegar said.

Added to all the other developer goodies, Microsoft released a preview of Visual Studio Online "Monaco," the code name for a new service that enables a lightweight coding environment in the browser. 

"As we look to extend the desktop IDE with services in the cloud, we naturally asked ourselves about whether it makes sense to offer a development experience directly in the browser," Somasegar said. "The desktop IDE provides a rich, broad and integrated developer experience for a range of platforms.  But we believe there are some scenarios where we can offer lightweight, friction-free developer experiences in the browser for targeted platform experience in the cloud."

Thus, Visual Studio Online Monaco is a coding environment for the cloud, in the cloud, he said. It complements the desktop IDE as a low-friction experience that will help developers get started, or make quick changes, to an existing cloud service. And it is integrated with Visual Studio Online.

Microsoft is today making Monaco available in preview for editing Windows Azure Websites. Monaco uses HTML and JavaScript to build cloud services and is complementary to the existing Visual Studio IDE. It provides an easy way for developers to get started and make quick updates to cloud services on the Windows Azure platform. With this release, developers can make live edits to Windows Azure Websites directly from the browser on modern devices.

"Developers will now be able to edit their sites directly from the Web, from any modern browser, on any device," Somasegar said. Monaco is already being used as the technology behind other cloud-based developer experiences, from Office 365 "Napa" development to SkyDrive file editing, he added.

Pricing details for Visual Studio Online can be found here.

"Just as applications are moving to the cloud, it makes sense for development tools to move there for the same reasons: scalability, ease of acquisition, lowered cost of ownership and ease of use," said Kurt Bittner, principal analyst for Application Development & Delivery at Forrester Research. "The support for analytics, making them an integral part of the application delivery process, will change the way that organizations gather feedback from their applications and use that information to deliver better solutions."

With the new release, the Visual Studio ecosystem remains strong. Visual Studio 2013 is launching with 123 products from 74 partners available already as Visual Studio 2013 extensions, Somasegar said.

Microsoft also announced the availability of Visual Studio 2012 Update 4 release to manufacturing (RTM). Update 4 includes bug fixes and product improvements, as well as changes that ensure great compatibility between Visual Studio 2012 and Visual Studio Online. Microsoft will continue these updates for Visual Studio 2013.


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