At VSLive this week we handed out the first VS 2005 Community Tech Preview. This is our first updated bits since the PDC Tech Preview and represents more than 6 months of coding. The Community Tech Preview is not the same quality as a Beta. It is more of a snapshot of how the product looked at the time the snapshot was taken. That said, it is in fairly decent shape. I installed it on a clean machine this weekend and was able to run through some of my usual walkthroughs.
We of course always recommend that you install pre-RTM bits on a clean machine and not on your primary machine. Does the Tech Preview work side by side with VS 2003? We didn't test that so we can't say. We'll test whether the Beta does, but not the Tech Preview. If you don't have a clean machine and you already have the PDC or Alpha build on your machine then uninstall those. I would also recommend cleaning out your registry. In particular HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\VisualStudio\8.0. I installed the Tech Preview on my main laptop, which had previous builds, and ran into several issues. When I cleaned out the registry first and then installed those issues went away. I also did a clean install on a spare hard drive and expect the best experience on that.
Of course, you are asking “How do I get this Tech Preview?” MSDN subscribers will be able to download it. All Alpha participants will get it. We will be giving it out at conferences, such as VSLive, VSConnections, TechEd, etc. Also check with your local .NET user group and your local Microsoft office. They should be giving out, and asking us for copies to give out. (We are looking into ways to make it downloadable by anyone, but there are issues with that.)
I will be playing around with it quite a bit in the next few weeks and beyond. And I will be posting mini-walkthroughs and code samples here for your viewing and playing-around pleasure.