Microsoft Unveils Visual Studio 2010, .NET Framework 4.0

I had expected Microsoft to hold off on any announcements about its next-generation developer technologies until next month, when the company will hold its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2008 in Los Angeles. But on Monday, Microsoft announced branding and other information about its next-generation developer suite and development framework.

Dubbed Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0 respectively, these tools will arrive sometime between late 2009 and mid-2010, which is not coincidentally the same schedule for Windows 7, Microsoft's next major platform release. As with previous versions of the tools, one of the primary focuses this time around will be collaboration.

Visual Studio 2010 was previously code-named Visual Studio 10, while its Team System version was code-named "Rosario." Microsoft says that this developer suite will focus on several key areas, including (Microsoft's words, not mine) riding the next-generation platform wave, inspiring developer delight, powering breakthrough departmental applications, enabling emerging trends, and democratizing application lifecycle management. At least two of these areas seem to point to both Windows 7 and Microsoft's Live Mesh web-based platform, both of which will be key topics at PDC this year.

Visual Studio Team System 2010 expands on the "democratizing application lifecycle management" theme and will work in concert with a new version of Team Foundation Server, Microsoft's source control tool. A related product, Team System Database Edition, will not be revved with the 2010-era products because Microsoft says that the line between traditional developers and database developers has blurred in recent years. This is due, in no small part, to Microsoft's own efforts to enable native development language access to database objects in recent versions of SQL Server.

A Visual Studio Team System 2010 Architecture product provides both Unified Modeling Language and Domain Specific Language support, and is aimed at both technical and non-technical users who need to create models that define business systems graphically. These models can then be used by traditional developers to create the necessary software solutions. The Architecture product taps into Microsoft's "Oslo" modeling platform, which many believe will help developers bridge the gap between traditional software development, services-oriented architecture (SOA)/Web services, and the future Live Mesh-based cloud computing platform.

One aspect of this announcement that remains vague is .NET Framework 4.0. Microsoft announced the framework this week, and its name, but did not provide any details about its makeup or capabilities. Presumably, the company is waiting for the PDC to provide more information about the upcoming framework. But it is odd that Microsoft's Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0 overview document (see link below) only mentions .NET Framework twice, and never in any substantial way. We get the name and nothing more.

So I guess we'll have to wait for the PDC for any specifics. Speaking broadly, however, the company has hinted at functionality around parallel processing and better support for many-core processors. We know that the Server Core version of the .NET Framework will be updated to include support for ASP .NET, and this is something that could happen in time for Windows Server 2008 R2, also due by mid-2010 and presumed to be part of the Windows 7 generation of Windows products.

These features, of course, are just educated guesses. But taken in context with what little we know about Windows 7, Live Mesh, and Microsoft's other platform plans, what it all points to is a very interesting PDC indeed. I'll get back from that show with an update to this information.

Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0 Overview

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