Microsoft has lifted the confidentiality statements for the next release of Visual Studio .NET. Additionally, they announced that this version, called Visual Studio® .NET 2003, is scheduled to launch in April, 2003. Formerly code-named "Everett," this is considered a point release rather than a major release. This means you can think of it as version 1.1 rather than as a full 2.0.
Visual Studio .NET 2003 includes a number of changes. Most importantly, there is full integration of the .NET Framework (version 1.1) with Windows .NET Server 2003.
Visual C++ programmers will see more changes than those using the other Microsoft languages. One of the big enhancements is the addition of Windows Forms support to Visual C++ .NET. Windows Forms was not fully supported by the original Visual C++ .NET product, but now has been incorporated. The result of this change is the ability to build forms-based applications faster and easier using C++. This gives C++ the same RAD abilities that Visual Basic has had.
An additional feature that should be of note to C++ developers is Microsoft's push for Visual C++ .NET's implementation of C++ to be as conforming to the ANSI/ISO standards as possible. Microsoft is boasting 98% conformance with the C++ standards. This means that interacting with other, non-Microsoft C++ products should be easier. Additionally, it means that it should be easier to obtain portable C++ code using Visual C++ .NET 2003.
Other improvements aimed directly at the C++ language include better performance with floating points. Microsoft has enhanced the support for floating points to the point where floating-point intensive processing may be increased by as much as 20%.
The other big change in Visual Studio .NET 2003 centers on mobile development. The new version has full support for the .NET Compact Framework. This allows for development using Visual Basic .NET or Visual C++ .NET that is targeted at the Windows CE .NET, Pocket PC, and Pocket PC Phone Edition. There are over 140 Internet-enabled mobile devices that are supported.
A few of the additional changes in Microsoft Visual Studio .NET include:
- Visual J# (TM) .NET is fully integrated
- An additional set of tools is included for building applications using the latest Web services specifications such as WS-Security, WS-Routing, and WS-Attachments.
- Improved load times—enhanced intelliSense®
- New managed data providers
While the product is not slated to release until April, 2003, people with MSDN subscriptions should be able to download the final beta from the MSDN site. Additionally, Microsoft stated that the final beta also would ship with the next set of MSDN disks for those who get the development tools.
While this is still a beta, the overall functionality seems to be running relatively smoothly. I've noticed a minor glitch or two; however, that is why it is called a beta. I believe that people doing mobile development or C++ development will want to jump on this revision. Others may want to look a little closer first. Because the overall changes for most people will not be substantial, Microsoft is planning a relatively cheap upgrade price for people with the current version of Visual Studio .NET. This will make the upgrade much easier to justify.
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