Microsoft to Deliver Visual Studio Team Tools

'Burton' system will feature improved support for distributed, team-oriented enterprise application development, the company says.

Microsoft Corp. will open a new chapter of its tools strategy this week when it announces a team-oriented version of its application development platform.

At its Tech Ed conference in San Diego, Microsoft plans to unveil Burton, the code name for its Microsoft Visual Studio Team System, sources said. The system will feature improved support for distributed, team-oriented enterprise application development, they said.

With the release of Burton, the Redmond, Wash., company will move into direct competition with IBMs Rational division and Borland Software Corp., among others, in providing tools for the overall software development life cycle, from requirements management to design, modeling, development, testing and maintenance.

Visual Studio Team System is part of the new Microsoft Solutions System, which is an extensible life-cycle tools platform to help development teams deliver service-oriented solutions.

Harley Sitner, senior product manager of the Windows Server System group, said Microsoft will be announcing "innovation and integration across the entire application development life cycle."

The company will "highlight our leadership in Web services and talking about service orientation and service-oriented architectures," Sitner said.

In addition to delivering key core technologies to provide support across the development life cycle, Microsoft also will call on partners to assist in providing the overall solution.

One such partner, Infragistics Inc., sells a suite of presentation-layer development tools. Officials from the East Windsor, N.J., company will be on hand to discuss how development teams can exploit presentation-layer components to cut as much as 40 percent from the time spent creating applications.

"We wanted to expand the platform to focus on team development and also to focus on communication between disparate members of the development team" located in different places, Rick LaPlante, director and general manager of Enterprise Tools at Microsoft, said in a promotional video. "When we ask people what they want in their tool, they say integration."

"In the long term, I think its very good for developers," said Mike Sax, CEO of, in Eugene, Ore. "Its good that theres competition, and there will be a feature race between the major players—IBM Rational, Borland and Microsoft—similar to what there was 20 years ago in word processors or 10 years ago in development environments."

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here for all of the wood behind the Visual Studio arrow.

With the new focus, what remains to be seen is what happens to third-party solutions that now fill in some pieces of the puzzle—pieces that Microsoft will soon deliver in the box. According to sources, there will still be an opportunity for choice.

"The Microsoft in-the-box tools will in large part replace many third-party solutions," a source said. "At the same time, Microsoft is really putting lots of effort into making Visual Studio .Net a third-party platform, so I think they want third parties to support them."

Eric Sink, a software craftsman at SourceGear LLC, in Champaign, Ill., which makes SourceGear Vault, a replacement for Microsofts source code management tool Visual SourceSafe, said, "Offering a seamless replacement has resonated with the Visual Studio world and brought us a very successful product."

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