When I first became involved with the Visual Studio SDK team back in summer 2003, the VSIP SDK was something that was only briefly mentioned on websites and books as something you could use to provide deep integration into Visual Studio. It was treated as this mythical, untouchable beast that you (as the lowly individual developer reading the book) would never be able to touch. You were stuck to whatever features you could hack into your VS Addin. Unless, of course, your organization signed a license agreement with Microsoft. For that, you received a SDK which was, well, let's just say, far from sufficient.
Over these past three years, that has all changed dramatically. Here is a simple timeline of where Microsoft has gone with VSIP:
In between, we have also released many CTP snapshots of the SDK (roughly once per month). Today, with the release of the Visual Studio 2005 SDK Version 3, we are making more significant changes to the VSIP program. As was announced a few days ago, the Visual Studio 2005 SDK documentation is now available on the public MSDN site. To compliment that, the Visual Studio 2005 SDK Version 3 is being published to a public download location. You can download the Visual Studio 2005 Version 3 SDK here (no registration required). No longer will you need to log into Passport/LiveID to download the SDK!
On the licensing side, we're also making a change that should have a huge impact on the developer tools community. We have removed the licensing restriction that requires you to target a Microsoft platform. Yes, you read that correctly. Feel free to re-read it again if the shock hasn't set in yet. You can now legally create a Visual Studio package for tools to target the JRE, Linux, Apache, or whatever your platform of choice may be! (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.....please have your friendly local corporate attorney review the license to make sure it's compatible with whatever project you're working on.) With that said, we are hoping that with this move, we "open the floodgates" to even more cool and useful tools and products plugged into the world's leading development environment. Extend on!