Microsoft to Give Partners More Access to Orcas IDE Code

Microsoft commits to the delivery date for Visual Studio 2008 and changes licensing to empower partners.

Microsoft has committed to deliver the next version of its developer tool set and the underlying platform by the end of November.

At the company's TechEd Developers 2007 conference in Barcelona, Spain, on Nov. 5, S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft, announced that the company will release Visual Studio 2008 and the .Net Framework 3.5 by the end of this month.

Microsoft also will be opening up its licensing for the Visual Studio technology to give some of its partners greater access to the IDE's (integrated development environment's) source code.

Visual Studio 2008, formerly code-named Orcas, and the .Net Framework 3.5 enable developers at all levels to rapidly create connected applications for Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, the 2007 Microsoft Office system, mobile devices and the Web.

In meetings at the software giant's Redmond, Wash., campus during the week of Oct. 29, Somasegar told eWEEK that his decision to shift Microsoft's development strategy and to implement more agile methods led not only to the on-time delivery of the products, but also to an increase of up to 85 percent in terms of various quality metrics over the "Whidbey," or Visual Studio 2005, release.

"The highly social and visual nature of the Web has fundamentally changed what users expect from all applications they interact with, regardless of whether it's on a customer-facing Web site or Windows rich client application, or a desktop business application built using Microsoft Office," said Somasegar.

"Traditionally, organizations have been hard-pressed to deliver the richer, more connected applications and services they need to boost productivity, drive revenue and stay ahead of the competition. With Visual Studio 2008 and the .Net Framework 3.5, it is easy for developers to use the skills they already have to build compelling applications that take advantage of the latest platforms," he said.


Click here to read a review of Visual Studio 2008.

In his blog on Nov. 5, Somasegar said: "We have a very broad partner ecosystem with Visual Studio. Some of our partners have needs to target multiple platforms. As a response to our partners' request, we are going to remove license restrictions with Visual Studio and the Visual Studio SDK to enable you to use the Visual Studio IDE and build applications that target the platform of your choice."

Moreover, "For our premier VSIP [Visual Studio Industry Partner] customers, we are going to provide access to the Visual Studio source code to enable you to better design and debug your add-ins to Visual Studio."


Shawn Nandi, director of the VSIP program, said Microsoft is making the licensing changes to its software development kit to "make Visual Studio a great platform for targeting custom and embedded platforms."

One licensee who will benefit from this change is Chicago-based OpenMake Software, a provider of build-to-release management solutions, which in October announced tools to integrate with Microsoft's Team Foundation Server, extending build support for multiplatform and cross-language development projects. OpenMake Meister supports a single build workflow that will build Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, Visual Studio .Net 2003, Visual Studio 6.0, Java JEE applications as well as legacy systems written in Unix, Linux or z/OS.

Tracy Ragan, chief operating officer and founder of OpenMake, told eWEEK: "Microsoft will be leveraging our technology for cross-platform build support. As you may know, their MSBuild/Team Build product only supports the building of .Net objects and cannot handle older versions of Visual Studio or Java. They will be working with us in providing this level of build functionality for the enterprise."

In essence, the new licensing terms will no longer limit partners to building solutions on top of Visual Studio for Windows and other Microsoft platforms only. This licensing change will be effective for the release of Visual Studio 2008 and the Visual Studio 2008 SDK.

The other change Microsoft announced for its partners, as Somasegar pointed out, includes allowing the company's premier VSIP partners to get access to the Visual Studio IDE source code. "They'll get access under a reference and debugging license and use that code to debug their extensions" to Visual Studio, Nandi said.

This is essentially a shared-source licensing program for Microsoft's top VSIP partners, he said.


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