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'Four Major Pushes' With Visual Studio 10

Visual Studio 2008 is barely a year old and already Microsoft is discussing the next generation of its flagship developer toolkit, currently titled Visual Studio 10.

A lengthy blog post by a VS program manager sheds light on where the company is going with the next release, which has no release date as yet.

Visual Studio has moved well beyond just being a code compiler into assembling the many parts and components Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has introduced over the years. This includes the .Net framework and the numerous frameworks used to build applications, as well as UI elements like Silverlight.

Gartner analyst Jim Duggan said Microsoft has done a good job of pulling together all of the platform technologies under the compiler as a strategy. "IBM really makes its bread and butter off of WebSphere; Microsoft's bread and butter is in making people think its operating system is a good place to be," he told InternetNews.com.

"To do that, you've got to make it an easy place to develop, an inexpensive place to develop, and make sure there are enough skills around to hire off the street and develop for Windows [in a way that] doesn't seem strange. They are doing all that's necessary to keep that fresh," said Duggan.

Microsoft first revealed the details during the VSX Developer Conference that took place earlier this week at Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., campus. VSX stands for Visual Studio Extensibility.

Microsoft plans four major "pushes" with VS10, according to Jeffrey Schlimmer, the author of the blog entry. They are Experience, Customer, Platform and Architecture.

The VS10 Experience is designed to make Visual Studio the developer's favorite tool. The Customer push means focusing on a specific customer need. In this case, VS10 will focus on the small- to medium-sized business developer, the Platform push will involve the latest technologies from Microsoft like Windows 7 and the foundation libraries, and the Architecture push is a changing in the infrastructure of the toolset itself.

The architectural changes include a Windows Presentation Foundation-based text editor and the Microsoft Extensibility Framework (also known as COM for managed code), multiple languages, a smaller, faster footprint for the application, improved Visual C++ performance, and utilizing new technologies, like multiple monitor and multicore in the compiler.

Later plans for the platform call for macros and other end user extensibility via VSTA (Visual Studio Tools for Applications) as well as more add-ins that can be built in managed code. A common project system is anticipated as well as richer types and protocols for discovery, activation, and manipulation. A visualization model also is on the agenda.

Modernization features in Visual Studio 10 include enabling a WPF-based look and feel of the shell. A full WPF shell is planned for later on, according to Schlimmer's blog. Other improvements on the horizon include extensive use of a parallel framework to utilize multicore hardware to boost Visual Studio responsiveness.

Scalability plans for Visual Studio 10 include improvements in Visual C++ performance and the elimination of quadratic algorithms in C# and Visual Basic project systems. A new editor is also planned. Subsequent to Visual Studio 10, Microsoft is eying a common/scalable project system and common low-level storage in language services.

Meanwhile, with VS10, the help system will use Live Search and integrate community ratings. Developers with multiple machines can synchronize between machines using Live ID/Mesh.

Schlimmer also noted a basic tool that will get bling: VS10 will eventually support instant messaging as an integral part of the small team development experience, with multi-user editing of shared source.