Everything you want to know about Visual Studio ALM and Farming
Brian Harry is a Microsoft Technical Fellow working as the Product Unit Manager for Team Foundation Server. Learn more about Brian.
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**UPDATE** It looks like Grant Holliday wrote a nice post that covers more than mine does. It's not quite as up to date with the Compat GDR but it's good reading too: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/granth/archive/2012/01/03/tfs-2010-what-service-packs-and-hotfixes-should-i-install.aspx
We've been releasing a variety of updates to TFS and the VS support for TFS. I realize that it can be dizzying and I want to start by apologizing. For the past year, we've been in a transition from a more ad hoc process to a more structured process of quarterly cumulative updates. I've been trying to push us generally forward in that direction while not overwhelming the team with too much change while we are, at the same time, trying to deliver VS/TFS 11 and the Team Foundation Service. Unfortunately, the result is that what you have to do to stay up to date has been confusing - quite honestly, even for me. With in the last couple of weeks, with the VS/TFS 11 Beta out, I've finally said, I want to finish that transition and move to a pure quarterly update model. We'll still do one-off hot fixes for customers who need them but the majority of customers can stay up to date by just installing the latest Cumulative Update and those updates will be produced quarterly.
In the mean time, I want to share with you the best info I have as of right now on how to be up to date. All of this info is for 2010 because not much has changed on earlier versions recently.
First, I assume you have installed either VS 2010 or TFS 2010 or both and possibly an assortment of other components - Test Professional, Build controllers/agents, test controllers/agents, etc.
Starting from there here are the updates that you should be aware of:
Anywhere you install a client - VS, Test Pro, Test Controller/Agent,
Build machine (if you install VS there as many people do)
Lots of client fixes
Anywhere you install server components - TFS App Tier,
Build machine, Sharepoint extensions, Project server extensions, ...
Lots of server fixes
Latest roll up of client and server fixes
Changes to enable 2010 clients to work with
Team Foundation Service (http://www.tfspreview.com)
Going forward I hope to improve several aspects, including - consitent naming of updates so it's easy to tell what they are, better aggregation so fewer packages get you everything you need, better notification of what to install, easier to tell what you have or don't have, etc. We've got some work to do and we've made some changes in VS 11 that's going to enable some of this to be markedly better.