Today we launched the first public release of Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Applications (VSTA) Community Technology Preview (CTP). VSTA is a .NET-based application customization technology designed to be embedded into applications to enable developers to create custom experiences on top of those applications.


Bringing application customization into the .NET Era

Over the past nine years, Microsoft has successfully supported packaged software vendors, tools vendors and systems integrators who need to extend and customize their applications to better meet end-user needs at reduced cost and effort.  VSTA will continue Microsoft’s leadership in development tools started by Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), first shipped with Microsoft products in 1993 and made available to other software vendors in 1996.  VSTA delivers a significantly enhanced customization environment that takes advantage of technology introduced with the .NET Framework to provide the next generation of application customization technology. We understand that moving applications and users to a new platform is difficult. To ease this transition we have designed VSTA to operate side by side with VBA in the same host application.


ISV, enterprise and end user benefits

VSTA broadens the opportunity for ISVs to win during the Request for Proposal (RFP) process and other competitive bid scenarios through their ability to “say yes” to specific customer needs at reduced risk and cost. In addition to the managed code environment in VB.NET and C#, ISVs and systems integrators also benefit from powerful underlying .NET platform technology.


Enterprise users benefit from having a consistent integrated development environment (IDE) across their Microsoft and third party applications. ISV’s can target the entire enterprise with VSTA, from the professional developer using the Visual Studio Team System IDE or the information worker macro recording using the embedded VSTA IDE.


End users benefit from a secure, managed code environment and customization framework that allows their software development departments to uplevel customization efforts without syntax limitations through integration with professional developer tools such as Visual Studio Tools for Office or Visual Studio.


Licensing VSTA

Although the licensing model has not been finalized I can say that VSTA will have a competitive licensing model that will make it cost effective for ISVs to integrate VSTA into their applications. VSTA licensing will follow a transparent model of either per seat or royalty based. More details will follow shortly as soon as they are ready.


Giant step forward

Today is a giant step forward for the future of application customization and VSTA technology. We are working with a select few of our ISV partners who are integrating VSTA. One of our first partners is Microsoft InfoPath 2007 which will enable users to customize InfoPath forms using VSTA. This is an exciting time for VSTA as we continue to gather customer feedback and add new features to make VSTA the best application customization platform.


The VSTA SDK is installed as part of the Visual Studio SDK.  Download VSTA from and see how easy it is to enable application customizations in your solutions today.

KD Hallman
General Manager