Microsoft has announced the official release of its Visual Studio 2010 software development toolkit and Version 4 of its .NET Framework, with Version 4 of its graphics library Silverlight also expected to be released later this week.
The announcement takes place as Microsoft kicks off its Visual Studio Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 are now available for download while Silverlight 4 will be made available for download in coming days.
Microsoft had previously scheduled a March 22 release for Visual Studio, but delayed the release to fix some bugs that had affected performance.
"We're excited to celebrate the launch of Visual Studio 2010 with developers around the world today," Bob Muglia, president of the Server and Tools unit at Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), said in a statement. "The functionality of Visual Studio 2010, .NET Framework 4, and Silverlight 4 creates a powerful and unique combination, opening up new opportunities for developers to build applications that take advantage of new and existing devices, as well as emerging platforms like cloud services."
In addition to Microsoft's launch, approximately 50 partners, including Micro Focus, Quest Software, Telerik and Developer Express, announced availability of products and solutions built on this latest wave of technologies.
Visual Studio is Microsoft's main developer toolkit for writing Windows-based applications. With this release, Microsoft has focused on updating the integrated development environment (IDE) by making it a Windows Presentation Foundation application, thus making it a more flexible application and able to display more information.
Visual Studio 2010 adds many application lifecycle management (ALM) tools as well as new architecture and testing tools focused on helping developers automate the testing process for debugging apps. The new IntelliTrace feature records an application's execution history and provides a reproduction of a bug, making it easier to chase down hard-to-reproduce bugs.
Microsoft also has added support for Windows 7's multitouch capabilities and the "ribbon" interfaces found in both Windows 7 and Office 2007, as well as the forthcoming Office 2010. There is also support for Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud service, with tools designed to make it easy to quickly develop, debug, test and deploy Azure-based applications.
There is also support for the newly unveiled Windows Phone 7, which will allow developers to build mobile applications with integrated phone design surfaces. And for the first time, developers have integrated access to SharePoint functionality in Visual Studio.
The new .NET Framework 4 comes with quite a variety of new features as well. It has ASP.NET support specific to Windows Server 2008 R2, for one thing. It also incorporates new languages -- IronPython, IronRuby and Microsoft's own language, F# -- while adding new Visual Basic and Visual C# functionality.
The new .NET Framework release also adds support for multi-core systems with Parallel Extensions, which target multi-core or distributed systems, as well as the Oslo modeling platform and M programming language.
That's not to mention improved performance in .NET Framework 4. Microsoft claims that the size of the runtime has been decreased by over 80 percent, increasing application speed.
Visual Studio 2010 comes in four flavors: Professional, Premium, Ultimate and Team Professional. They can be bought with or without MSN subscriptions, starting at $549, with volume discounts available.