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Latest Visual Studio Ready Ahead of Schedule

As promised earlier this month, Microsoft announced this week it is shipping the final code of Visual Studio 2008 (VS2008), the latest release of its flagship integrated development environment.

The company said in early November that it was on target to have VS2008 ready for shipment this month, even though the product's formal launch won't take place until next year. Along with Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server, VS2008 is set for a big gala launch event in Los Angeles on February 27, 2008.

Starting today, Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers can download VS2008 and .NET Framework 3.5.

One key addition in Visual Studio 2008 is support for Language Integrated Query, or LINQ, which provides the capability to handle query and set operations, such as SQL statements, directly within .NET languages like C# and Visual Basic.

In addition, VS2008 adds the ability to write applications that work with multiple versions of the .NET Framework, including versions 2.0, 3.0, and 3.5, according to Microsoft statements. It also includes tools for building applications with a similar look and feel to Office 2007's "ribbon" user interface.

"Visual Studio 2008 delivers over 250 new features, makes improvements to existing features … and we’ve made significant enhancements to every version of Visual Studio 2008, from the Express Editions to Visual Studio Team System (VSTS)," S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Developer Division, said in a statement.

The .NET Framework 3.5 adds support for Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), Somasegar added.

Windows XP Service Pack update.

Meanwhile, Microsoft also confirmed the company is shipping the latest release of the final service pack for Windows XP. "Late last week, Windows XP SP3 [Service Pack 3] was made available to about 15,000 beta testers," a company spokesperson said in a statement e-mailed to InternetNews.com. "A broader beta will be available at a later date," the statement said, adding that release of SP3 is on track for shipment during the first half of next year.