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Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4 Beta 2 Go Live

Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 Beta 2 became available to MSDN subscribers Monday, and general availability is expected Wednesday, Oct. 21. The Beta 2 release was announced during the kickoff keynote this week at the Microsoft SharePoint 2009 Conference in Las Vegas by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Visual Studio 2010 integrates the much needed SharePoint tooling, which was highlighted onstage in conjunction with the planned November releases of the first SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 public betas.

Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4 Beta 2 offer developers a Go-Live license. The final release of both products is planned for March 22, 2010, according to Microsoft. "We encourage developers and development teams to start evaluating Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4," said Dave Mendlen, senior director of developer marketing at Microsoft. "We want them to be ready for deployment, ready in terms of taking advantage of the product at launch on March 22."

Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4 beta 2 are designed to improve developer productivity, ratchet up application lifecycle management among better integrated development teams and to provide platform support for Microsoft's upcoming generation of products: Windows 7 launching Oct. 22, Windows Server 2008 R2, SharePoint 2010, Office 2010, SQL Server 2008 R2, and Windows Azure--expected to launch next month at PDC.

"Our job is to line up those platforms and become creative about doing things with Visual Studio 2010 to enable developers to take full advantage of those platforms," said Mendlen.

Pricing and Versions
The technology updates in Visual Studio 2010 beta 2 are somewhat overshadowed by a new licensing and pricing scheme announced today. Microsoft is whittling its nine SKU lineup down to four: Visual Studio 2010 Professional with or without MSDN, Visual Studio 2010 Premium with MSDN, and Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN.

The upshot is that Visual Studio 2010 Team System is getting repackaged as a Premium offer, which rolls up the former Team Suite editions--Developer, Database, Test and Architect--into a single, higher priced SKU, which is $5,469 for new licenses and $2,299 for renewals.

Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate Edition is the "comprehensive ALM suite," formerly Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Suite with MSDN Premium, which consists of multiple developer licenses and Team Foundation Server.

The Ultimate Edition pricing, which is $11,924 new and $3,841 for renewals, is an increase of 9 percent over VSTS 2008, said Mendlen. "We did that because we've added a collection of deep architectural tools that transfer your architecture from whiteboard to living assets," he explained. The Ultimate Edition also offers new tools for team testing and an integrated development environment. "In effect, what we are saying is, 'there is a tremendous amount of research and development that has gone into this particular box so we've made a slight price increase,'" Mendlen said.

Team Foundation Server 2010, upon release, is included in all versions of Visual Studio 2010, according to a blog post by S. "Soma" Somasegar, senior vice president of the Developer Division. "For small teams that need only core development features such as source control, bug tracking, and build automation, TFS Basic offers a simple, streamlined install and runs on server or client machines. Test Elements users will notice a more intuitive and responsive user interface," he explained.

SKUs and Promotions
Visual Studio Standard is no longer a SKU starting with VS 2010. The Professional edition is $799. It's $1,199 with MSDN for new licenses and $799 with MSDN for renewals.

A new Ultimate Offer for MSDN Premium subscribers was also announced. Subscribers with licenses for Visual Studio Professional or Team Suite SKUs prior to March 22, 2010 can step up to a higher level of Visual Studio at the time of the VS 2010 launch for their current rate. When the MSDN contract expires, customers can then decide if they want to continue to use the higher end SKU and pay the higher price.

"What this means is that customers will get a lot more software than what they are paying for at the time of our launch," said Mendlen.

MSDN subscribers will also see increased benefits. Microsoft is updating MSDN with visual and performance improvements. All MSDN subscribers have access to 40 hours of online training per year through Microsoft learning. MSDN Premium subscribers will also have access to 750 hours, or essentially 8 months of Azure development.

SharePoint Savvy
On the technology front, Visual Studio 2010 beta 2 offers a SharePoint Explorer, numerous SharePoint project templates including a Visual Web parts project, a Windows SharePoint Package in the Solutions Explorer and other features. Developers can now use F5 from within the IDE to launch a SharePoint page with one click, or to run a Web Part and debug it. A new Map folders feature enables developers to map image URLs to SharePoint environments.

New business connectivity services for Office, SQL Server and Access database services are also available for developers, and in the case of Access, end users. A new developer dashboard offers diagnostics into SharePoint applications and services. Microsoft is also introducing a new "sandbox solution" that enables Web Part deployment to SharePoint apps on premises or online.

To take advantage of these new features, developers need VS 2010 beta 2, the SharePoint 2010 Designer and SharePoint 2010. The SharePoint 2010 Designer will continue to be free to licensed SharePoint users. Announced today, SharePoint now supports Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

The Visual Studio 2010 UI, which was rebuilt using Windows Presentation Foundation in beta 1, offers better text rendering in beta 2, according to Microsoft. Developers can also expect better stability and performance. It also adds Windows Azure Tools templates and Silverlight 3 databinding, according to Microsoft.

.NET 4 beta 2, meanwhile, is much smaller than its predecessor, with an average 50 MB download. Beta 2 also offers an 80 percent .NET Client Profile reduction, according to Microsoft.

The new .NET beta integrates ASP.NET MVC. That decision may indicate that Microsoft believes ASP.NET MVC will have wider appeal than the company originally anticipated, said Bill Wagner, founder of SRT Solutions and a Visual Studio Magazine contributor. "Microsoft has been saying [MVC] may or may not have a long future," he said. "Since MVC is going to be a part of Visual Studio, that's a pretty clear statement it will be around for awhile."

Finally, check out the new MSDN and Visual Studio logos. The Visual Studio 2010 updated logo is the same "figure 8" with new colors: the new .NET and Silverlight "blue" wave combined with a second loop that likes a lot like Azure.

Download Visual Studio 2010 beta 2 and .NET Framework 4 beta 2 here.

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