Visual StudioOne of the new features of Visual Studio 2008 is the ability to target multiple versions of the .Net framework with your application.  I briefly mentioned this my last editorial, but I thought I'd expand on it here and help you understand why this is a very good thing for developers.

One of the problems many people faced with Visual Studio 2005 was that it only allowed you to develop .Net 2.0 applications. The benefits of moving to .Net 2.0 from 1.1 are pretty obvious (check out the guided tour for details), but the issue people had was that they still had to develop and support their old applications which meant that the new IDE would have to wait until they either upgraded or they started a new project.

With Visual Studio 2008, we've included the ability for the product to target multiple versions of the .Net framework.  This means that if you have a .Net 2.0 application you can install Visual Studio 2008 and continue to work with the old application while at the same time taking advantage of some of the new features of Visual Studio 2008.  Features such as vastly improved CSS design support, rich JavaScript debugging and intellisense, built in AJAX and design time support for nested master pages or improved click-once support to name a few.

This will also mean that if you want to upgrade your p roject from .Net 2.0 to .Net 3.0 or 3.5 you can do this simply by changing the target framework version in the project properties.  This doesn't mean that there wont be upgrade issues to think about, but at least you don't have to change tools and upgrade your projects to see what happens when you upgrade to the latest framework - which should make the upgrade process significantly easier.

Unfortunately if you are on .Net 1.1 or 1.0 you'll still need to move to .Net 2.0 (which you could do on Visual Studio 2005 today) before you can take advantage of Visual Studio 2008, but we are working hard to make it easier for you to get the latest tools and move your applications through the upgrade process.

For more details about what is coming up in Orcas, check out my previous MSDN Flash editorial, have a look at the "Orcas" overview whitepaper, check out the feature specifications or read Scott Guthrie's blog post on Multi-targeting for web developers.