Improving how we update Visual Studio

Improving how we update Visual Studio

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A common piece of feedback we’ve gotten is to make it easier to find and acquire bug fixes and updates – basically, how we can bring more improvements to more customers, more promptly, and more easily. As you can imagine, there are many factors to balance here, ranging from the kinds of updates we should offer, how frequently we should offer them, and how exactly VS should tell you something is available. To help frame our thinking, we looked at a lot of updating mechanisms for the kinds of things that work and what doesn't work – ranging from technologies like Windows Update through to the update mechanism we have for extensions for Visual Studio today. Looking at all of that, we chose to focus first and foremost on improving the discoverability of updates that we make to VS, focusing on enabling you to stay at the tip of quality.

The outcome of this work is a service in Visual Studio 11 Beta that we call Visual Studio Update or VSUpdate, which alerts you when updates are available. Earlier this week, we posted our first update via this channel and we have been rolling it out throughout the week to our MSDN subscribers. Today we’re making it available to the world, so you will see a notification in Visual Studio 11 Beta that looks like this:


If you click the notification, the Extension Manager will open, and the update will be visible in the Updates->Product Updates section. All you have to do is to click on the update button to download the update and start the installation. And if you want to opt out of receiving these notifications, you control that: select Tools->Extension Manager->Updates and select “Disable automatic detection of available updates.”

The update we pushed out this week includes a set of fixes to the Visual Studio 11 Beta including fixes for some of the most frequently reported crashing issues, performance improvements for large C# projects, and fixes for both IntelliTrace and Unit Test. For the full list, see the KB article.

We still have a lot of decisions to make about how to use this service – things like the frequency and even the kinds of things we provide through this channel, so please give us feedback, either in the comments to this blog post or through UserVoice (for specific feature requests, our Forums (for questions), or Connect (for bugs) – more on that later in the post.

From Many Steps to Two-Steps

This simple two-step notify-then-install process will help replace the often multi-step process you may have to go through today to bring VS up to date, which may involve installing VS, then installing some hotfixes and a service pack. To ensure that the process stays two steps, updates that come through VSUpdate will be cumulative: that is, every VSUpdate package will contain all the VSUpdate packages that came before it.

The implication of the decision to keep the process to two steps is that we’re going to have to be very thoughtful about how often we release updates and what goes into them.

We want to strike the right balance so that most of you choose to update Visual Studio when we have updates available. To that end, we need to make sure that you can trust the updates – that you know that installing an update won’t adversely affect Visual Studio or your work. To help increase our ability to deliver on this “first do no harm” approach, right now we’re choosing to focus on things like bug fixes and security updates. Each update will include a full list of what is included in its release notes, available from a link in the Extension Manager so you can find out what you are getting before you click the update button.

What we’re describing here is a first step – a good first step, we think – but there’s a lot more we’d like to do. We want your feedback on VSUpdate. What was your experience like with this first update? What would make it better? What would be in a compelling update? Is the in-product notification a good way to alert you when updates are available? Please tell us.

As always, we are reading your comments on this post, watching for issues in the Forums at, listening to your suggestions on User Voice at , and reviewing any bugs you log on Connect at

clip_image002Dave Lubash – Senior Program Manager, Visual Studio Ultimate

Short Bio:  Dave Lubash joined the Visual Studio Team in 1998 and has worked on every version of Visual Studio from 7.0.  Prior to becoming the Ultimate Release Manager in 2009, he worked on Debugger, Profiler, and other Diagnostic Tools.




David Guyer – Senior Program Manager, Visual Studio Professional

Short Bio: David Guyer is currently the Lead Program Manager for Visual Studio Setup and has been working on deployment technologies in Visual Studio since Visual Studio 2002.

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  • your rss page for posts is a wreck. it's not normal. I can't subscribe using firefox bookmarks

  • Logically they should be windows updates but as Daniel commented previously Windows updates are often applied under a central IT policy which means users don't have any control over them - so I'm happy to see VS updates deployed via a separate mechanism that allows us to stay current independently.

  • yes, an update channel not dependant on wu!!

    don't get me wrong, windows update is nice, but the big problem is in a corporate environment, it almost always admin-only updates. and since the update batches are only created for standard desktop configs, having visual studio updates deployed by wu doesn't happen. often on dev machine, we have full rights and CAN deploy updates manually, but franckly, excepted a SP, tracking hotfixes and security updates for visual by hand, is completely unusable. so just knowing a new update is available is already great. allowing option to launch directly the update would also be nice.

  • Visual Studio checks for updates on start up, so if you aren't seeing the update notification, try restarting Visual Studio.  Unfortunately, the update notifications are not being shown in the Express products at this time.

    If you want to download and install the update yourself, you can go to

    HTH, thanks for the questions and comments!

  • One thing I would like from VS updates is to know if it will cause code I compile on this machine to require an additional hotfix/redist on the client machine. This happened several times for VC8 and was always a pain when having to supply DLLs to customers.

  • Very happy to hear this!  Just last week I was automatically WU'ed and picked up new VS 10 stuff which broke my item template cache.  I was so annoyed that picking up security updates messed with add new item.  In my mind VS should be updated separately and I should be able to wait a few days if I'm working on something important.

  • Today is patch Tuesday and so I had to run Windows Update and wait for 20-30 for it to finish. Then, I had to go and use the Adobe Updator to check, download and install updates for that software. Then, I went and checked if my Flash Player was up to date. Then, I checked my Java version through its own updator. And now you want me to also have to check Visual Studio through a separate updator service? Are you serious. I wasted a morning for updating each and every software I have. I want one place where updates appear not one hundred places. And if you want to separate security from feature updates, that is why there are Important v.s. Optional updates in Windows Update. If a system is not broken, why fix it and create more hussle in the process? I don't have any department to look after and perform all these updates via one hundred separate updating services.

  • @David Guyer, I've restarted VS11 several times to no avail. Is there some log I can check to see why it's not working? I'm using the Professional Beta.

  • I would prefer frequent incremental fixes. There are less chances to introduce serious bugs in smaller updates, and we get to enjoy the benefits that much faster.

  • I got the updated, no problem. I really like this approach and would NOT like these to come through Windows Update due to the IT controls as others mention.

    Nice job.

  • @Andrew McDonald, if you are still having trouble, please start a thread in the forums, and we can diagnose the issue better there.

    David Guyer - Lead Program Manager VSSetup

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  • Our company will not allow software downloads from the internet and this would include VS11 doing it internally. We do have a WSUS server which we are in control of so we would be in favour of using windows update. Even better why not allow both?

  • Personally I would appreciate if someone tested the updates to make sure they don't have problems with the Windows SDK or certain versions of the Visual Studio SAMEVERSION Runtime like VS2010 SP1 and the Windows 7.1 SDK have.

    That is, the rubbish we have to go through when installing VS2010, VS2010 SP1 and Windows SDK 7.1:

    If you're installing Windows updates (set Windows to automatically install updates and get KB2565063 installed before you finish installing all the components) that include later versions of the VC2010 runtime you can also kiss your installation goodbye:

    I wrote a blog post that summarises what you have to do to make it all work:

    So if we could avoid this in future, that would be great.

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