Microsoft updates Visual Studio 2005 beta

Microsoft has yet to release a feature-complete beta version of its upcoming Visual Studio 2005 development tools. But at last week's VSLive conference in Orlando, it announced a refresh of the existing beta release and disclosed more details about the product.

The software vendor said the Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition will add features for building Web and mobile applications and bundle all of the programming languages that the tool supports -- Visual Basic .Net, C#, J# and C++.

The standard edition of the existing Visual Studio .Net 2003 release is available only in language-specific editions, noted Jay Roxe, a Visual Studio product manager at Microsoft.

Microsoft hasn't announced pricing for the Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition, which is scheduled to ship in the first half of next year. There will also be Express, Professional and Team System editions.

The update of the first Visual Studio 2005 beta release adds Microsoft's modeling technology, code-named Whitehorse, and new elements of the company's Team Foundation change management and version control tools, a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

"We're actively soliciting feedback on all parts of the product," Roxe said. He added that users can log suggestions and report software bugs on the MSDN Product Feedback Center Web site.

Also last week, Microsoft announced a version of Visual Studio .Net 2003 that includes the tool's professional edition, developer editions of Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2000, and Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office System. Roxe said the software bundle is priced at US$749, or US$549 for customers who are upgrading from prior versions of the tools.

Visual Studio .Net Professional 2003 sells for US$1,049, but existing customers won't be given a price break to get the extra elements that come with the special release, according to Microsoft. The bundle "is targeted at the people who haven't upgraded yet," Roxe said.

Meta Group analyst Thomas Murphy said Visual Studio .Net 2003 will be replaced by new versions in less than a year, "so this is kind of like the end-of-year model blowout sale." He said Microsoft is trying to get more users to upgrade to the products, building on Windows Server 2003.

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