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Visual Studio 11 Beta Now Available

Two key products for Microsoft developers hit the beta milestone on Wednesday: Visual Studio 11 and .NET Framework 4.5.

The products were released with a Go Live license, meaning they can immediately be used in production environments and will be supported by Microsoft.

S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Developer Division, said during a press briefing last week that VS 11 contains "hundreds and hundreds of new features" that support what he called the three "value propositions" behind VS 11:

  1. Development of modern business and consumer applications, meaning primarily software for Windows 8/Metro-style applications.
  2. A simplified and productive development environment.
  3. Greater support for and integration of agile software methodologies.

Given the first value proposition, it's no coincidence that the Windows 8 consumer preview was also released on the same day as the VS 11 and .NET Framework 4.5 betas. Microsoft says it wants these tools to become the primary drivers behind building the new generation of mobile applications, an area in which Microsoft is lagging the competition.

To that end, VS 11 supports five languages in the box: C#, Visual Basic, F#, C++ and JavaScript. "No matter what developer skill set you have, if you want to write a Metro-style application, we want to make that a first-class, end-to-end experience," said Jason Zander, corporate vice president of Visual Studio.

One change that will be most visible to veteran Visual Studio developers is a cleaner, less colorful user interface. "A lot of what we hear from developers, both internally and externally, was 'Hey, there are way too many toolbars and buttons. We don't want all that, we want to focus on [the code.] Help me find the stuff I want to work on, don't make me jump through hoops,'" Zander said.

That's why, Zander explained, "code is front and center in the [VS 11] IDE. We removed toolbars to reduce clutter, [and other] things that distract your eye. We want you to be able to concentrate on tasks" that make developers more productive.

He added that the final product lineup hasn't been determined, but stated that it will be similar to the offerings for Visual Studio 2010. "We haven't finalized the final set of SKUs...There will be no major changes like there were between Visual Studio 2008 and Visual Studio 2010. We may add a few SKUs, but it's mostly set."

Pricing hasn't yet been announced, but Zander said that more information on that area would be "coming up soon."

Zander also reminded users that Visual Studio 11 remains a code name, and the official product name -- expected by many to be Visual Studio 2012, in keeping with tradition -- has yet to be determined. "We haven't announced final branding yet."

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About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.