Today is an exciting day for our customers worldwide, for the Developer Division at Microsoft and for me.  As some of you are probably aware, TechEd Europe begins today, June 29th 2004, in Amsterdam.  We made a set of exciting announcements at this event including availability of Visual Studio 2005 Beta1.  An exciting part of this announcement is the introduction of the Visual Studio Express products, which is available in beta form as well. 


The primary purpose of the Express products is to provide a lightweight, easy to use, and easy to learn suite of tools and a lightweight database for hobbyists, enthusiasts, and students.  We took a long look at things like how faculty teach, how students learn, how hobbyists get excited, and how enthusiasts use their computer and we specifically designed the Visual Studio Express products to meet their requirements.


The way I think about the Express products is this – if you have a broadband connection, you should be able to download, install and get started in just around 15 minutes.  However, for a lot of people out there who are on narrow-band connections the download experience will still be a reasonable one.  


Just last night, Vic Gundotra, GM of Platform Evangelism Team at Microsoft threw a challenge to his team - “if any of you can't set up a website using the Web Developer Express product in under 15 minutes, lunch is on me“.  This is because in one of his recent flights, he gave it a whirl and was able to accomplish the task of pulling together a web site in less than 15 minutes. 


There are a number of content providers including Amazon, PayPal and EBay who are joining us in this.  Each of them will be working with us to provide Starter Kits and other content that will help customers learn to use these new Express tools in a fun and exciting manner.


A number of book publishers also announced today that they will be producing titles specifically geared towards hobbyists, enthusiasts, and students.  We’ve also kicked off a worldwide contest to help drive the creation of content in preparation for the Visual Studio 2005 launch and maybe win some great prizes.


In addition to greater stability and more features, Visual Studio 2005 Beta 1 also includes the Team Architect Edition portion of the Visual Studio Team System (the modeling tools formerly codenamed “Whitehorse”).  


Another thing that we announced today is the MSDN Feedback Center which will allow us in the product teams to gather your feedback on a scale never before possible.  This is yet another important step in our quest for a close connection and a virtuous feedback loop with our customers. 


I very much look forward to your feedback (early and often) on Visual Studio 2005 Beta1.