Microsoft ships second Visual Studio 2005 beta

Microsoft on Monday is releasing the second beta version of its upcoming Visual Studio 2005 as well as the April Community Technology Preview for the SQL Server 2005 database.

With Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2, all the included tools products have been built from the exact same builds of the .Net Framework and Visual Studio, said John Montgomery, director of product management in Microsoft's developer division. "The biggest feature [with the beta release] is that it's all of our products. All 14 at once," Montgomery said. The betas also feature integration with SQL Server, boosting developers' abilities to use functions such as SQL Server Reporting Services and write stored procedures for the database.

With the April preview of SQL Server 2005, the database is "now 100 percent feature-complete," said Tom Rizzo, Microsoft director of SQL Server. Featured in the database are functions such as automated management, reporting, wizards, and dynamic help.

The general release of the tools and database are planned for the second half of 2005, although the ship date has slipped before. "We're still on target for the second half of 2005," Rizzo said.

Visual Studio 2005 beta products available on Monday include Professional Edition, Tools for the Microsoft Office System, Standard Edition, Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition, Visual C# 2005 Express Edition, Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition, Visual J# 2005 Express Edition and Visual Web Developer Express Edition. Beta releases under the Visual Studio 2005 Team System nameplate include Team Edition for Software Architects, Team Edition for Software Developers, Team Edition for Software Testers, Team Suite and Team Foundation Server.

Rounding out the 14-product beta release is the beta version of .Net Framework 2.0. The framework is characterized as middleware for running applications on the Microsoft Windows platform. Version 2.0 features enhancements such as click-once deployment.

The Visual Studio Beta 2 release is available from M SDN (Microsoft Developer Network), with MSDN subscribers having access to a secure download area. The SQL Server preview is available to BetaPlace members and also on MSDN. SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, which is a small-footprint database that is part of the preview release, also is available on MSDN.

Microsoft is aggressively enhancing its Visual Studio line with additions such as application lifecycle management via the Team System platform, said analyst Melissa Webster, research director at IDC. With its .Net platform, Microsoft is holding its own against the rival Java platform, Webster said.

"What we're seeing in our research is the sort of ongoing coexistence of .Net and Java. Usage of both .Net and Java is growing," Webster said.

The up-and-coming LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python) open source software platform, meanwhile, is not challenging Microsoft, at least in terms of revenue generation, Webster said. "Certainly, we're seeing increased uptake on open source. Whether open source will seriously challenge Microsoft is an open question," she said.

Microsoft on Monday also is unveiling its "GoLive!" license that gives Visual Studio Beta 2 and SQL Server preview users the right to use the software in production. The GoLive! License permits deployment of ASP.Net Web applications as well as applications based on Windows Forms and Visual Studio Tools for Office and .Net Compact Framework applications for mobile devices.

Additionally, the company is announcing availability of training and reference materials for customers to prepare for using the products.

While Microsoft promotes its commercial products, NTeam is being pushed by some developers as an open source alternative to Team System. But Microsoft disagrees that NTeam competes with Team System. "The short answer is that the products that are coming up under that particular initiative aren't really competitors to Visual Studio Team System," Montgomery said. "In fact, some of them are complementary to Visual Studio Team System. A lot of them are testing tools, some [are] integrated build tools, and so on."

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