Microsoft Releases Visual Studio 2008

.NET Framework 3.5 also released

Microsoft today released Visual Studio 2008 to MSDN customers for downloading, making it the first of the "big three" servers of the coming "Global Launch Wave" to be available.

Along with VS 2008, the latest iteration of the .NET Framework -- 3.5 -- was released. Microsoft met a very aggressive timetable for its flagship IDE, having announced about two weeks ago that customers would be able to get VS 2008 alongwith the updated .NET Framework sometime later in November.

VS 2008 will be available "soon to other customers through our various other channels," S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Developer Division, said in a press release.

With its release, Microsoft's VisualStudio is finally catching up to the .NET platform -- somewhat -- offering tooling for .NET Framework 3.0 (available since November 2006) and .NET Framework 3.5.

The Visual Studio 2008 release includes the entire range of tools from Visual Studio Standard and Professional Editions to Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) 2008 Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Team Suite modules to Visual Studio 2008 Express editions. Visual Studio 2008 tooling is expected to be available off-the-shelf early next year.

"We've always actually been driving toward a November ship date," said Scott Guthrie, GM of Microsoft's development division, for an earlier article in Redmond Developer News. "That's actually been in the schedule for at least nine or 10 months." And, in this instance, unlike the deadlines for another major server also to be announced at the Launch Wave next Feb. 27 -- Windows Server 2008 -- that deadline was hit. The other major server is SQL Server 2008, with expected availability next June.

The new IDE adds or integrates tooling for the foundations in Windows Vista (.NET 3.0), Office 2007, ASP.NET AJAX, Language Integrated Query (LINQ) and the Web. TFS and VSTS also offer a host of new features including continuous integration, support for larger teams and performance improvements. .NET 3.5 integrates ASP.NET AJAX, LINQ, and support for Web 2.0 protocols -- WS*, REST, JSON, RSS and ATOM APIs.

"The whole idea of Web 2.0 is broader than just composing user interfaces, it's more about composing application functionality," says Dino Chiesa, director of .NET platform in the connected systems division at Microsoft. "Things like making the Web programmable and building apps that exploit that programmability and that's how we're evolving .NET 3.5 to exploit that type of capability."

LINQ debuts in Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5. It allows developers to query relational, XML or .NET object data from within VB or C#.

"We're planning a VS2008 kind of patch upgrade so that when the final SQL Server 2008 does ship, we'll make sure that everything fully works with it. Because it's still under development, there are some features there that aren't finalized," Guthrie said. "If you use the SQL Server 2005 feature set, obviously that all works."

The final release of VS2008 will be followed in the same week by updates to several VS extensions, Guthrie said.

Microsoft is releasing a new beta of the ADO.NET Entity Framework and LINQ to Entity tooling, which were dropped from Visual Studio2008 shortly after the first beta was released. The Entity Framework is expected to ship early next year, and once that happens, it will be made available in the service packs for VS2008 and .NET 3.5.

The company is also shipping a VS2008 update to the Silverlight tools for beta 2 add-in."The update that we ship this month will just have the same features,"explained Guthrie. "And then you'll see the next major update of the Silverlight tooling support add all the new runtime tooling support, data binding, layout management, styling templates -- a bunch of exciting features." That tooling will be in beta until Silverlight 1.1 is released, which is expected next year, although Guthrie declined to comment on a release date.

MSDN subscribers can get VS 2008 here. 90-day trial downloads are here. .NET Framework 3.5 can be found here.

-- Kathleen Richards, with additional reporting by Keith Ward

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