Microsoft has delayed the release of the Visual Studio 2005 product line several times, but the company seems to be making up for it by continually padding the release with new editions. This week, in an effort to reach just about every conceivable market, Microsoft added yet another Visual Studio edition to its 2005 product line. The most recent release, Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition, is designed for small-business individuals and developers who need a bit more power than the Visual Studio Express Editions offer.
"With Visual Studio 2005, Microsoft's goal was to move away from the idea that one tool fits all developer needs," Microsoft Developer Division Corporate Vice President S. Somasegar said this week. "Recent third-party studies prove the increased performance, scalability, reliability, and developer productivity benefits of Visual Studio and the .NET Framework. Microsoft is taking steps with Visual Studio 2005 to make this even more compelling for a wide range of users."
Compelling? Possibly. Confusing? Certainly.
Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition includes support for the standard Visual Studio languages, including C#, C++, J#, and Visual Basic, and is designed for Windows, Web, and mobile development, the company says. But the product joins an already crowded stable of products that includes Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition, Visual C# 2005 Express Edition, Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition, Visual J# 2005 Express Edition, Visual Web Dev 2005 Express Edition, Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition, Visual Studio 2005 Team Architect Edition, Visual Studio 2005 Team Developer Edition, Visual Studio 2005 Team Product Manager Edition, and Visual Studio 2005 Team Tester Edition (with more to follow, no doubt). As if those releases weren't confusing enough, Microsoft also recently announced Visual Studio .NET Professional 2003 Special Edition, a new edition of the current Visual Studio product that bridges the gap between today's products and Visual Studio 2005, which won't ship until next year. Visual Studio 2003 Special Edition includes Visual Studio .NET 2003 Professional, Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition, and Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Developer Edition and costs just $550 for Visual Studio product users and $750 for new users.
Given this array of products, I have no doubt that the mantra for the Orcas release of Visual Studio, which is due in 2006, around the same time as the Windows Longhorn release, will be all about simplification. Round and round we go.