In terms of stability and functionality, Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 Beta 1 is a marked improvement over the preview released in May. I found that Beta 1 resolved most of the interactive operational glitches I experienced in my earlier look at the product.
Significantly, Beta 1 rolls support for 64-bit applications into the IDE. One set of compiler back ends generates code for x86, Itanium, and the AMD64 and Intel Corp. EM64T platforms. I had no issues with the IDE, compilation, or operation of 32- and 64-bit applications on a server with dual Opteron 248 CPUs.
The IDE now handles local and remote debugging of 64-bit software, as well as more-or-less-transparent mixing of 32- and 64-bit projects. The platform-specific agent installs on the debug target and links to the 32-bit Visual Studio IDE. While testing remote debugging, I learned how well a Tablet PC works as a debugging console.
The Beta installs 64- and 32-bit editions, also in a prerelease state, of .Net Framework 2.0. Flipping managed code projects written in Visual C# between 32- and 64- bit run times worked effortlessly, as it should.
The Visual Studio 2005 Beta is huge, complex, and somewhat unstable. Don't kick it around unless you're prepared to read the scattered release notes and tap into blogs, newsgroups, and mailing lists. In some ways, Microsoft's release of its Express line of language-specific IDEs (plus SQL Server Express) is more exciting. These free downloads make great learning tools, but I found myself using them to build smaller subprojects that would have taken longer to set up in the Visual Studio 2005. With this product mix, Microsoft's tools story is really coming together.
Visual Studio 2005 Beta 1
Available: Q1-Q2 2005