Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Update 4 Release Candidate Available

Microsoft has made a new release candidate of Update 4 for its Visual Studio 2012 IDE available for developers.

Microsoft has released a new build of Visual Studio 2012 known as Visual Studio 2012 Update 4 or VS 2012.4.

The new build, delivered as a Release Candidate, features bug fixes for Team Foundation Server (TFS) and LightSwitch developers.

In a blog post, Brian Harry, a Microsoft technical fellow working as the product unit manager for Team Foundation Server, said Microsoft decided a couple of months ago that it would need to deliver a fourth update to Visual Studio 2012 rather than shift certain things to Visual Studio 2013, which the company announced at its TechEd North America 2013 conference and released a preview of at its Build 2013 event.

"The primary motivation is addressing compatibility and migration/round-tripping issues between VS 2012 and VS 2013 and the various platform releases to make adoption of VS 2013 as smooth as possible," Harry said. "The planned timing will be around the same time VS 2013 releases (and, of course, I can't give any more detail at this time other than saying that it will be before the end of the year)."

Harry said VS 2012.4 will be a "very scoped" release focused on compatibility fixes and customer-impacting bug fixes. "We will not be delivering significant new features in Update 4," he said. "I qualify it with 'significant" because what is a feature and what is a bug fix is in the eye of the beholder."

Microsoft deemed the new build a release candidate because, "we have validated it for production use and we wanted the name to clearly reflect that," Harry said.

The Release Candidate of VS 2012.4 can be found here with additional documentation and information on improvements and bug fixes found here.

TFS is a key element of Microsoft's application life cycle management (ALM) strategy. Microsoft recently helped to shore up that strategy by closing a deal to acquire InCycle's InRelease business unit, a release management product for development teams. Microsoft announced its plans to acquire InRelease at TechEd in June and completed the deal last month. Now Microsoft has a preview of InRelease available for Visual Studio 2013 Preview.

The InRelease acquisition provides development teams richer release-management capabilities and streamlines the process of managing project workflows in TFS. With InRelease, teams will be able to more easily automate the release process for application deployment. Microsoft also announced that InRelease will be integrated into Visual Studio 2013 and Team Foundation Server 2013.

"The release-management capabilities provided by InRelease offer a critical component of the DevOps workflow, enabling developers to deliver faster and more frequently into production," said S. Somasegar in a blog post.

Meanwhile, in a separate post, Harry spelled out some of the particulars of the deal and how things will work going forward. "InCycle Consulting will continue as an independent company and, until we ship the first fully Microsoft product, will continue to provide trials and sell the InRelease product," he said. "Customers who purchase now will be provided a free upgrade to the Microsoft shipped version when it is available. This is a good way to get started now and be sure that you also have a good path forward."

Harry also noted that Microsoft is focusing on getting InRelease into TFS, the on-premises product. However, Microsoft will support InRelease in its cloud service at a later time, he said.