Windows 8 Preview, Visual Studio 11 Beta Set for February 29
Microsoft announced that it's timing its Windows 8 Consumer Preview release with the availability of beta versions of Visual Studio 11 and NET Framework 4.5. All are now set to be released Feb. 29. Microsoft made the announcement during a during a "sneak preview" of the Visual Studio and .NET Framework betas. The releases coincide with the launch of the Windows Store for Metro-style applications. The Visual Studio 11 beta supports integration into the Windows Store.
Both Visual Studio and .NET Framework have been updated since the previews were released last September at the Microsoft BUILD conference, and will include a free Team Foundation Server Express beta. TFS Express is a subset of Team Foundation Server 11, that provides source code control, work item tracking, build automation and an Agile taskboard, among other features, for up to five developers.
The Expression Blend design engine for XAML development is now integrated into Visual Studio 11. Visual Studio LightSwitch is included in Visual Studio 11 Professional, but the beta version does not support HTML5.
Microsoft has updated the user experience for the Visual Studio 11 beta, according to Jason Zander, corporate vice president of Visual Studio. The enhancements are designed to help developers focus on code and related tasks. They include fewer toolbars, less use of color, a revamped Solution Explorer window and Search Everywhere throughout the IDE, including for Visual Studio commands and in the new Unit Test Explorer.
Visual Studio 11 Ultimate, the application lifecycle management tooling, offers advanced testing (service layer and exploratory) as well as templates and tools designed to support Agile planning, tracking, development and test. Visual Studio 11 Ultimate also supports continuous testing for unit tests and developers now have the option to use alternate frameworks.
Visual Studio 11 and Team Foundation Server enhancements are intended to further team productivity and integration for a continuous delivery cycle in a world of connected devices and services. New tools include a Scrum template, PowerPoint Storyboarding template for Product Backlogs (that requires Office PowerPoint) and a Feedback Manager that enables administrators to grant permissions to project stakeholders, including customers. Microsoft is also furthering the use of Visual Studio IntelliTrace diagnostics for service monitoring in System Center 2012.
Microsoft is providing a features a chart that offers a comparison of the functionality in the Visual Studio 11 beta products (which include the familiar SKUs from the 2010 lineup): Visual Studio 11 Ultimate, Visual Studio 11 Premium, Visual Studio 11 Professional and Visual Studio 11 Test Professional.
Visual Studio 11 beta can be used side-by-side with Visual Studio 2010. The .NET Framework 4.5 is an in-place update to .NET Framework 4, however. Microsoft is working to ensure compatibility for most applications.
Kathleen Richards is the editor of RedDevNews.com and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.