With Microsoft just coming off very busy back-to-back Professional Developers Conference and WinHEC events, you might think the company was done with big developer-related announcements for the year. But that proved not to be the case with the announcements coming out of Microsoft’s TechEd EMEA 2008 Developers conference in Barcelona.
The TechEd EMEA conference, which focuses on the European, Middle Eastern and African market, opens Nov. 10. And one of the key announcements from the show is that with the struggling economy, Microsoft is giving its tools customers a break by allowing them to buy its Visual Studio tools at a reduced rate. And the company is making competitive offers to users of competing tools as well.
“We see the current economic climate as quite challenging,” said Dave Mendlen, director of developer marketing at Microsoft. “For us, we’re seeing that cost has become a barrier, so we’re enabling people to get our tools at a lower price.”
Among the key Visual Studio 2008 Price Promotions is that first-time purchasers who are currently using any other development tool-including competitor tools or Visual Studio Express-can get Visual Studio Standard Edition or Visual Studio Professional Edition at the upgrade price of $199 instead of the $299 price for Visual Studio Standard Edition, and $549 instead of $799 for Professional Edition. This offer is available to all customers purchasing in non-volume licensing.
Current customers who have Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition or Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition without an MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) subscription can add either an MSDN Premium Subscription or an MSDN Professional Subscription at a discounted rate. And customers starting a new MSDN subscription will receive Visual Studio 2010 when it ships.
MSDN Premium Subscribers also receive SQL Server 2008, Expression Web 2 and Expression Blend 2 with support for Silverlight 2 development. This offer is available Jan. 1, 2009, to June 30, 2009, to customers with the following Microsoft Volume Licensing agreements: Open, Open Value, Select or EA.
Current customers with a Visual Studio Professional with MSDN Premium Subscription license with active Software Assurance will receive a 30 percent discount when they purchase a Step-up license from Visual Studio Professional with MSDN Premium to any Visual Studio Team System role edition-including Development Edition, Test Edition, Architecture Edition and Database Edition-with MSDN Premium. Also, as announced on Sept. 29, Visual Studio Team System Development Edition customers now receive Visual Studio Team System Database Edition. This offer is available to volume-licensing customers from Dec. 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009.
Also, current Visual Studio Team System customers with any of the role-based editions with an MSDN Premium license with active Software Assurance will receive a 30 percent discount when they purchase a Step-up License for Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Suite. This offer is available from Dec. 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009.
Simplifying Everyday Development Tasks
During his keynote address at TechEd, Jason Zander, general manager of the Developer Division at Microsoft, demonstrated how Microsoft is simplifying everyday development tasks through recently released technologies, such as Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1, and the forthcoming Visual Studio 2010 and the .NET Framework 4 releases. In addition to disclosing more information about Visual Studio 2010, Zander announced new programs and tools modeled after Microsoft’s internal SDL (Security Development Lifecycle) that enable software developers to create more secure and privacy-enhanced applications.
“Developers are under increasing pressure to deliver more complex applications that work across a variety of devices, but with fewer resources and less time,” said Zander. “We continue to refine Visual Studio and the .NET Framework to help simplify the application development process and ultimately improve the day-to-day experience for anyone building, managing, deploying, or using applications and services.”
Zander showed off enhancements available in Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1, including 20 to 45 percent performance improvements for WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation)-based applications and a streamlined installation experience for client applications and WCF (Windows Communication Foundation) improvements that give developers more control over the way they access data and services.
In an interview with eWEEK, Mendlen discussed two pillars of Microsoft’s overall developer strategy with Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0, which are “inspiring developer delight” and “riding the next-generation platform wave.”
Zander described these in his keynote, explaining that Visual Studio 2010 will deliver Windows 7 support with advances in Microsoft’s C++ platform to simplify development of native Windows 7 applications and support of Windows 7 innovations such as multitouch user interfaces.
Other additions include OBA (Office Business Applications) support, including the ability to build applications that span multiple versions of Office and new support for building SharePoint applications. Microsoft also is delivering a new WPF-based editor and has renovated its C++ IDE (integrated development environment) to not only support emerging trends like parallel computing, cloud and Web services, but also provide a first-class C++ development experience through an IDE that scales to the large size of code bases that are typical of C++ sources, Mendlen said.
“There are a number of features we’re looking forward to in Visual Studio 2010,” said Julian Bucknall, CTO of DeveloperExpress, in a statement. “It opens the door wide open to extensibility within the IDE. Features that simply were not possible previously are now easily crafted with the new editor model. For developers, this means the beginning of a much richer, easier way to work, including source code documents that truly appear to transcend the limitations of text.”
Meanwhile, under the “raising the quality bar” pillar, Microsoft announced new Lab Management capabilities for Visual Studio Team System 2010. Lab Management will deliver features that enable software development teams to deliver higher-quality applications as well as create tighter integration across development and testing teams throughout the application life cycle.
Capabilities of the new offering include reduced time required to set up, tear down and restore virtual environments to a clean state, Mendlen said. It also helps to eliminate bugs that are difficult to reproduce, by enabling testers to file rich bugs including links to environment checkpoints that developers can use to re-create complex multitiered environments, Mendlen added. And the Lab Management offering helps to improve build quality by automating virtual machine provisioning, build deployment and build verification testing in an integrated way, he said.
Bola Rotibi, principal analyst at Macehiter Ward-Dutton, in a statement, said:
“Businesses and users have high expectations of software applications today, and it’s essential for developers to have tools that enable them to take advantage of the latest advancements in today’s platforms. Those tools also need to provide an environment that simplify the development process and enable developers to deliver applications in a cost-efficient manner. Tools that enable developers to become more efficient, effective and productive are very much needed, particularly in times of budget constraints.“
In another announcement, Microsoft made portions of its internal Security Development Lifecycle available to its customers and broad ecosystem with the release of the SDL Optimization Model, SDL Pro Network and Microsoft SDL Threat Modeling Tool beta.
The SDL Optimization Model is a free download that facilitates implementation of the SDL in development organizations outside of Microsoft. The SDL Pro Network is a network of nine consultancies that specialize in application security and can guide and support organizations in implementing the SDL in their environments. And the Microsoft SDL Threat Modeling Tool is a free tool that enables developers to identify and mitigate potential security issues early.