I’m thrilled to announce that this morning we released Visual Studio 2012, Team Foundation Server 2012, and .NET Framework 4.5 to the web. It’s time to start your engines, and begin downloading today!

MSDN Subscribers can download immediately at the MSDN Subscriber Download Page, and volume licensing customers will be able to download starting tomorrow from the Volume Licensing Service Center. You’ll also be able to find the product in stores in the next month or so, as well as some availability to purchase through the Visual Studio product website in the next few days. Finally, to evaluate the free trial versions or download our free Express products, please visit the Visual Studio product website today.

This has been a great release for the team, and I’m really excited about all that we’ve accomplished. By adopting agile practices, and using our IDE and ALM tools, we’ve been able to complete the release in half as many milestones this time around. Here’s a picture of our release team, signing off on the final build:

P1060432

Developing great apps for Windows 8 is an important goal of this release. Therefore, in coordination with today’s developer tools releases, you’ll notice that the final version of Windows 8 has released to the web as well. Furthermore, in addition to the Blend tools that ship with Visual Studio 2012 RTM, today we also released a new Blend + SketchFlow Preview for Visual Studio 2012 that addresses some top Blend customer requests, including support for WPF, Silverlight, and SketchFlow.  For more details, check out BlendInsider, the Blend team blog.

Top 12 of Visual Studio 2012

In case you’re still deciding whether to download Visual Studio 2012, or haven’t been keeping up with all the news about the release, I’ll leave you with 12 good reasons to upgrade today. ;-)

#1) Develop for Windows 8

Visual Studio 2012 contains all the tools you need to develop killer apps for Windows 8, from templates, to designers, to testing, to debugging. Blend now comes with the Visual Studio installation providing rich visual tools for creating Windows store apps using HTML/CSS and XAML. Using these tools, you’ll find everything you need to develop a great app and submit it to the Windows Store.

NewProject

For more information, see the Windows 8 App Developer Blog and the Windows Dev Center.

#2) Develop for the Web

Visual Studio 2012 and .NET 4.5 provide the latest advances in ASP.NET including web optimization improvements (minification and bundling), new templates, HTML & CSS editor improvements, page inspector, and new publishing tools. We’ve added new features to support JavaScript development including IntelliSense improvements, a new DOM explorer, and a JavaScript console. For more information, check out the Web Development team blog.

MvcApplication4 (Running) - Microsoft Visual Studio (10)

Page Inspector

#3) Develop for Windows Phone 8

Visual Studio 2012 will provide support for developing Windows Phone 8 applications (both with a Express SKU as well as a freely downloadable plug-in for VS Pro and above). This will come online in the future, once Windows Phone 8 and the developer SDK become available. Some new features to look forward to include native C++ support, the ability to target both Windows Phone 7.x and Windows Phone 8 applications, multi-chassis support, and enterprise publishing. Stay tuned for more info from the Windows Phone team.

marblemaze_complete_phone

C++ Windows Phone 8 Application

#4) Develop for Windows Azure

Visual Studio provides the best possible tools to develop your cloud services. In Visual Studio 2012, you’ll notice cloud tooling improvements including support for distributed caching, new publishing options, new templates, and a lower install footprint. Using Team Foundation Service with Windows Azure, you can now achieve continuous integration and continuous deployment of your software. For more information, please visit the Windows Azure .NET Developer center, and download today’s release of the Windows Azure SDK for .NET.

Deployed Builds in TFS Portal

Deployment history

#5) Develop Business Applications

Visual Studio 2012 contains a variety of tools for developing business applications. SharePoint developers will find new designers for list and content types, new templates for site columns and Silverlight web pages, as well as new options for deploying SharePoint sites. ALM features like performance profiling, unit testing, and IntelliTrace are now available for SharePoint development. Client-side development has been improved as well, with support for JavaScript debugging and IntelliSense. For more information, please visit the SharePoint developer team blog.

ListDesigner

SharePoint List Designer

Meanwhile, we’ve also announced a new app model for Office and SharePoint 2013, which enables you to host your apps in the cloud, and to use web technologies to develop them. Visual Studio 2012, along with the Microsoft Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012 – Preview, gives you the tools to program with the new app models for Office and SharePoint. To learn more and get started building apps for Office & SharePoint 2013, head to http://dev.office.com.

LightSwitch is a powerful tool available for building business applications for the Desktop and the Cloud. Starting in Visual Studio 2012, LightSwitch is available as part of the Visual Studio Professional, Premium and Ultimate installations. LightSwitch includes a variety of improvements in Visual Studio 2012, such as a new theme, the ability to access data from any OData source as well as create OData services, Active Directory integration, and new business types. We also are working on support for HTML clients, which will be available as an add-on to VS2012. To learn more, please visit the LightSwitch Developer Center and the LightSwitch team blog.

LS

LightSwitch in Visual Studio 2012

#6) Develop Games and other 3D Applications

Visual Studio 2012 includes graphics tools to help game developers become more productive, making it easier to build innovative games. From debugging DirectX graphics, to designing and coding DirectX shaders (HLSL), to inspecting and manipulating graphics assets (images and models), Visual Studio 2012 provides all the functionality you need to build graphically rich 2D/3D applications.

GraphicsImage - Game

Visual Studio 2012 Graphics Diagnostics Tools

#7) Take advantage of the latest language advancements

If you’re developing in C# or Visual Basic, you can take advantage of the language new features in Visual Studio 2012 and .NET 4.5 for asynchronous programming. Using the new async and await keywords, you can write asynchronous code that looks a lot like the synchronous version:

Async

The C++ support in Visual Studio 2012 includes the full C++ 11 standard library as well as new language features: stateless lambdas, SCARY iterators, range-based for loops, and scoped enumerations support. Visual C++ 11 also adds seamless access to Windows Runtime components through C++/CX as well as C++ Accelerated Massive Parallelism (C++ AMP), which enables hardware acceleration for the execution of your data-parallel C++ code.

For JavaScript development, please see more details about the improvements we’ve made in the Web development section above.

Lastly, if you’re using F#, you’ll enjoy improvements for information-rich programming, which enable you to program directly against data services, and are made possible by F# type providers and LINQ queries.

#8) Performance, Reliability, and Compatibility Improvements

In addition to adding new features, we’ve also invested heavily to improve the core capabilities of the product. For example, we’ve invested in performance and made significant improvements in areas such as the toolbox, typing and editing, debugging, and solution loading time.

SolutionLoad

We’ve also taken care to improve the backward compatibility of Visual Studio 2012, and enabled you to continue collaborating on projects with teammates using Visual Studio 2010 SP1.

#9) New IDE Productivity Features

The Visual Studio 2012 user interface includes an updated look and feel, which is consistent with the latest Microsoft products, and designed to focus your attention on the code. The overall environment has been streamlined, including simplified toolbars, a lightweight Find dialog, and less tab clutter by previewing files rather than opening them during debugging. Using Quick Launch, you can now search the IDE for any menu or command.

IDE

New Find Dialog

#10) Improve your code quality with enhanced testing tools

Visual Studio 2012 includes a wealth of testing tools.

Microsoft Test Manager 2012 has been enhanced to embrace exploratory testing (sometimes called agile testing), which allows you to explore the product in any way you want while keeping relevant steps and data that can be used to directly file bugs and feedback:

Exploratory Testing

Lab Management has also been greatly simplified in this release with the consolidation of agents and the introduction of standard environments, which allow you to benefit from build-deploy-test workflows without the dependency on Hyper-V or SCVMM.

With Visual Studio 2012, we now provide the ability for you to include additional adapters to support 3rd party unit testing frameworks such as xUnit.net, NUnit, and others. The new Test Explorer will showcase all of the tests across your solution regardless of which testing framework they were written for. Visual Studio 2012 will continue to provide support for traditional unit tests written using the classic Visual Studio Unit Testing Framework, and adds support for writing tests in C++ as well.

Unit Testing

New Test Explorer

#11) Reduce cycle times using tools for agile practices

Visual Studio 2012 contains a variety of tools to create transparency between team members, reduce waste, and accelerate the flow of the project. As you set out to start the project, PowerPoint storyboarding is a useful way to communicate the requirements of the software. When you get further along, the Microsoft Feedback Client can be used to gather feedback on the working bits from external stakeholders.

Team Foundation Server 2012 provides a rich toolset for planning out your sprints, managing the backlog, and tracking progress. I recommend reading my earlier post, where I explored these features in detail. As an example, below is a picture of the taskboard, which can be used to easily edit work items during a standup meeting:

Taskboard - TFS

#12) Deliver Cloud-Based Services with Smoother Collaboration between Operations and Engineering

Each release of our ALM tools, we’ve integrated additional roles to improve collaboration across the team, and decrease cycle time. This release, we’re including operations, which is increasingly important for today’s cloud-based services apps. Many of you are already using System Center to monitor your applications in production. This release, we’ve introduced a new management pack, which will allow critical production issues detected by System Center 2012 SP1 to be immediately assigned to the development team with high quality diagnostic information via TFS and Visual Studio.

1667.SCOM-TFS_APM_Alert[1]

System Center Operations Manager

These kinds of tools for operations and engineering are something we plan to continue delivering in the future. For example, System Center 2012 SP1 will also introduce “Global Service Monitor” (GSM), which allows you to monitor your application’s functionality, performance, and uptime from multiple endpoints around the world.

Conclusion

I’m very excited for the bits to be out and available for download! As you can see, there are a ton of new capabilities in this release, which is now the best version of Visual Studio we’ve ever shipped. I look forward to seeing all the amazing things that you will do with it. I hope this post gave you a glimpse of what’s in store. To learn more, I invite you to join us on September 12th for the Visual Studio 2012 Launch event online at http://www.visualstudiolaunch.com/.

 

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