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Microsoft Launches Visual Studio 2013

Microsoft officially released Visual Studio 2013 for download on Thursday, the same day the Windows 8.1 update was rolled out to current Windows 8 users.

Coming just about a year after its predecessor, Visual Studio 2013 marks an unusually fast turnaround time for a new version of a major Microsoft product. The product's three latest versions were Visual Studio 2012, Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Studio 2008, so Visual Studio 2013 represents a break from its earlier cadence.

However, the timing of the release does fit with Microsoft's new emphasis on quicker release cycles. For example, Visual Studio 2012 is currently at the release candidate (RC) stage for the fourth update (officially known as 2012.4 RC 3). Nearly every month this year has seen a new iteration of Visual Studio 2012.

Visual Studio 2013 can be installed side-by-side with previous versions of Visual Studio, or right over any pre-release versions, including the RC, which came out in September. The Visual Studio 2013 release includes Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2013, Visual Studio's collaboration tool. TFS, according to Microsoft Technical Fellow Brian Harry, cannot be installed side-by-side with previous versions, but can replace previous versions of TFS or be installed over a pre-release version.

Visual Studio 2013 comes as part of the MSDN subscription package, so it's just a matter of downloading it from the MSDN Subscriber Downloads page for those developers. Microsoft also has a special deal for those who bought the full version of Visual Studio 2012 Professional; the equivalent version of Visual Studio 2013 is available from the Microsoft Store for $99 (for a limited time).

Microsoft is pushing developers to sign up for MSDN subscriptions rather than buying piecemeal, and offers some enticements toward that end. For example, when launching Visual Studio 2013 for the first time, an MSDN subscriber can sign in with his or her Microsoft account. When that happens, Visual Studio keeps track of the developer's top settings and synchronizes them across devices. In addition, MSDN subscribers who sign in get an unlocked version of Visual Studio 2013 without needing a product key. For TFS users with a subscription, Team Explorer pre-populates Team Foundation Service accounts automatically in the Connect to Team Foundation Server dialog, and connects to them without re-prompting for credentials. Team Foundation Services is the cloud-enabled version of Team Foundation Server.

Visual Studio 2013 supports native- and managed-code development for Windows platforms from the just-released Windows 8.1 all the way back to Windows XP; and Windows Server versions from the current version, Windows Server 2012 R2, back to Windows Server 2003.

The official online launch of Visual Studio 2013 is Nov. 13 at 10 a.m. ET.

About the Author

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