Finally!  VC++ 2005 Beta1 has dropped, and we had a little party last Friday to celebrate.  It was nothing fancy, and I spent most of my time playing bridge in a corner.  The full beta is only available to MSDN Subscribers now, and selected partners, but there's still a way for everyone to play around with Whidbey: the Express SKUs!

What is Express? It's a way for everyone - students, hobbyists, and nay-sayers, to give the Visual Studio product line a go.  In fact, VC++ 2005 Express Beta1 is out there, just waiting for you to go download it.  In fact, start the download (you'll have to cough up a valid email address), and then come back here to read more about it.  I'll wait.

Welcome back.  The Express lineup, in my opinion, is freakin' cool.  It gives everyone an opportunity to see what's great about our product.  We've got a rock-solid optimizing compiler, and a brand-spanking new C++/CLI syntax (that I know you're dying to try out).  You also get the best of our IDE, including live code browsing, Intellisense, debugging, and the updated Class Viewer.

You could win an Xbox and Halo 2.  Got your attention yet?  Head over to Channel 9's Summer of Express contest for all the details.

We want bugs.  We want your bugs.  Grab all your code, run it against our Beta, and give us all the bugs you find.  We've released a new product feedback center, where you can file bugs that go right into our bug database.  One click, your computer to our doorstep.  You can even keep us responsible by tracking the progress of your bug, and bugs filed by other customers.

What's new?  I'll probably elaborate on this more, and I might find the energy to work up a few samples.  I suggest you try out the new Whidbey language, our generics support, and the new Secure CRT, to name a few of our advancements.  Don't try out DF (deterministic finalization), though.  Despite what the website may say, DF is not in beta1.