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There are a lot of different ways to learn a product or feature. You can watch videos, you can read blogs and articles. You can download training kits and developer guides. These work very well when you have a sandbox to play in, somewhere you can try out the features and code shown in the articles and blogs. But what if you don’t have anywhere to try it out? What if trying something out requires having a sample project as a starting point? Kind of hard to see how to complete testing faster using Test Manager without a project to test or Test Manager! Hard to try out software architecture features without Visual Studio Ultimate and an architecture to explore!
Technology to the rescue! With the rise in popularity and capabilities of virtual machines, more and more product groups are providing Hands On Labs inside virtual machines complete with all the software and sample projects to make it easy for you to try out lots of cool features. Case in point, Brian Keller, an evangelist for Visual studio wrote a blog announcing the Visual Studio team has a Virtual Machine with Visual Studio 2010 RTM loaded with sample data and they have even provided a set of manuals you can use to complete a series of different hands on lab experiences.
You may only use Visual Studio to edit and deploy your code, but there is so much more hiding in there!
Ever wondered how Visual Studio can help you with testing? Check out these labs
Interested in how Visual Studio can help you discover the architecture of a project (since we have been talking about how to handle code without documentation)? Check out these labs
Has ITIL arrived at your company and is everyone asking you about your processes and configuration management? Check out these labs.
You can download the labs here. You can even choose between Hyper-V, Virtual PC 2007, or Windows 7 Virtual PC! There is more detail about the virtual machines, the labs and how to use them at Brian Keller’s blog post “Now Available: Visual Studio 2010 RTM Virtual Machine with Sample Data and Hands-on-Labs”.
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This blog is also posted on Susan Ibach’s blog