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Visual Studio 2008 and the .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is more than a traditional service pack, which usually consists of bug fixes and performance improvements.  While we fixed some bugs and dramatically improved performance in several areas, the dev team listened to customer feedback and decided to introduce several of the most-requested new features into the .NET Framework via a service pack.  Furthermore, with SP1, Microsoft brought Visual Studio 2008 into alignment with the new features in both the .NET Framework and in SQL Server 2008.

There are three key areas to highlight in this Service Pack:

1. SP1 advances the art of application development. The new ADO.NET Entity Framework feature in SP1 offers developers a model-based paradigm and a rich, standards-based framework for creating data-oriented applications shared across multiple applications and platforms. The separation of presentation, data, and business logic used in concert with a single data model will enable developers to spend less time writing plumbing code and more time refining business logic.

2. SP1 makes data-driven programming easier. SP1 offers developers support for ASP.NET Dynamic Data, which provides a rich scaffolding framework that enables rapid data-driven development. Since ASP.NET takes care of creating the presentation layer, a fully functional Website is output and ready for customization without the developer writing a single line of code. Further, with ADO.NET Data Services, Web developers can create RESTful Web 2.0-style applications that have better server scalability and improved caching support.

3. SP1 is the fastest and easiest way to deploy Windows applications. With the .NET Framework Client Profile, a small subset of the Framework that powers client applications, developers can offer their end users a dramatically streamlined and rapid application download experience. In addition, improvements in SP1 result in dramatic reductions in cold start times, allowing developers to serve a broader set of customers with varying hardware profiles.

In addition, there are several other improvements that are contained in this release:

  • SP1 contains innovations that dramatically improve the performance of managed desktop applications and enable the creation best-of-breed rich client applications. SP1 offers several dramatic improvements to the common language runtime (CLR), including the ability to generate managed code that dramatically improves both application startup time and end-to-end application execution time, and the ability of managed code to take advantage of the ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) security feature in Windows Vista. Additionally, managed applications that are opened from network shares now have the same performance and behavior as native applications running with full trust.  Finally, SP1 offers dramatic improvements for the creation of rich client applications and line of business (LOB) applications using Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).  In addition to faster startup times and improved performance for bitmap effects, SP1 offers WPF developers DirectX pixel shader support and the new WebBrowser control.
  • SP1 enables developers to create a broader set of mission-critical Web Services that are more scalable and easier to build.  SP1 greatly improves the scalability for hosted WCF services and enables the creation of a broader set of WCF-based services with support for RM sessions, Message Contract and Nullable<T> types.  SP1 also improves the process of exposing REST services with WCF, through an expanded UriTemplate syntax and support for the Atom Publishing Protocol, resulting in a simpler and more flexible programming model when building services to support Web 2.0 applications. Finally, improvements to the .NET Framework give developers more control over the way they access their data and services, and offer significant performance gains when working with large WF projects in Visual Studio.
  • Visual Studio 2008 SP1 offers developers improved performance, reliability and the ability to take advantage of the innovations made to the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 and SQL Server 2008. Visual Studio 2008 SP1 delivers key performance improvements and addresses various points of customer feedback, including:
    • Better-performing designers for building WPF applications,
    • Improved tools for developing AJAX and data-aware applications, and
    • Streamlined Web site deployment experience. 

Additionally, Visual Studio 2008 SP1 is better aligned with the innovations in SQL Server 2008, makes the development of occasionally connected applications and spatial (location aware) applications easier, and offers developers additional controls for incorporating business intelligence into applications. 

Finally, Visual Studio 2008 SP1 is also better aligned with the innovations made to the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1, including improved designers for working with the ADO.NET Entity Framework, and a richer JavaScript development environment.

SP1 also builds on the enhancements already introduced in Visual Studio 2008 and the .NET Framework 3.5. Visual Studio 2008, providing a consistent, integrated experience for software development teams, and providing a secure, reliable solution for developing applications for the latest platforms: the Web, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, the 2007 Office system, and beyond.

Part of our focus (DPE Public Sector) for this fiscal year is to continue supporting you in the adoption of .NET Framwork 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008 SP1 via our scheduled Webcasts, Technology Conferences, Screencasts and Blog entries, and 1 to 1 interactions. Throughout the year we plan to immerse ourselves (and you) in exploring the breath and depth of this new set of enhancements. Feel free to let us know what matters to your particular agency/team so that we can make sure to incorporate your area of interest.

Soon, I will post an FAQ to further expand on this exciting news for developers.

Downloads

Download Visual Studio 2008 SP1 here: Visual Studio 2008 SP1
Download .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 here: .NET Framework 3.5 SP1
Other downloads here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vstudio/cc533448.aspx

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