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Microsoft Extends Visual Studio Line

Microsoft announced another entry in its line of .NET development tools, adding Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition to the mix.

Introduced on Monday at the Redmond, Wash. software vendor's VSLive! Conference, the product is designed to extend Microsoft's reach among developers. Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition is targeting line-of-business application developers in small to medium-sized businesses who occasionally build Windows, Web or mobile applications.

"With Visual Studio 2005, we focused on how you create the right tool for each kind of developer," said Jay Roxe, a Visual Studio project manager. "The product line now includes everything from Express, targeted at the novice, up to Team System, targeted at the corporate developer who wants to do integrated development across several large teams."

Microsoft said Standard Edition combines the simplicity of the hobbyist Visual Studio Express products with richer features for building Smart Client and Web applications, along with the ability to build and deploy Web services. Like the Express version, it has a "streamlined user experience." It does not include testing tools such as static analysis, unit testing or code coverage, nor does it offer project management or test case management. It also supports the add-in tools and components developed by Visual Studio Industry Partner program members.

The most likely user of the Standard Edition, Roxe said, would be a sole developer turning out line-of-business applications. Because the product doesn't include collaboration tools, remote debugging or advanced source control features, it's not appropriate for teams or those working across business units.

Visual Studio 2005 has two main components, an application development platform and the .NET framework, the underlying software mode, which integrates applications with the operating system and Web services.

At the top level is the Visual Studio development environment, which developers will use to create applications for Longhorn. In addition, it includes the .NET Framework, Whidbey's underlying software mode, which serves as the enabling technology for running Longhorn applications and hooking them into the operating system and Web services.

Because Visual Studio enables managed code development on the .NET platform, Roxe said, "you will be able to develop applications that run on Longhorn." Longhorn is the code name for Microsoft's next-generation operating system, targeted for a 2006 release.

The full Visual Studio 2005 product line now includes the Visual Studio 2005 Express products, Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition, Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition and Visual Studio 2005 Team System. Microsoft expects to release a beta version of the Standard Edition by the end of this year in advance of a RTM in the first half of 2005.

At the same time, Microsoft announced Visual Studio .NET 2003 Special Edition, which includes Visual Studio .NET 2003, Windows Server 2003 Developer Edition and SQL Server 2000 Developer Edition. This edition provides tools to build and test ASP.NET Web and Visual Basic applications. Users can upgrade for $549; the full Visual Studio 2005 Special Edition package, which includes Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2000, costs $749.

"Special Edition is designed for people building production-quality applications today," Roxe said.

Also on Monday, Microsoft made the Visual Studio 2005 Beta 1 Refresh available on MSDN. The latest version of Beta 1 includes Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation with collaboration and version control tools.

"This is the beta we shipped this past June, with all of Visual Studio Team System, the high end of the Visual Studio line, now included within I," Roxe said. "We've been very open very early with Visual Studio, even shipped early bits at the PDC last year. So this is the continuation of that trend." Roxe said developers are encouraged to continue to give feedback through the MSND Product Feedback Center. "It's a very direct pipe between users and the development team," he said.

"People are paying attention to it," he added. "This is the easy way to automatically get comments to the right people."