Microsoft exec hails .Net

Microsoft group product manager for Visual Studio, discusses Microsoft's tool plans and the level of developer talent available

Microsoft officials at the VSLive conference in San Francisco this week elaborated on where the company is headed with its software development tools, noting the planned Orcas and Rosario releases of Visual Studio, due later this year and a year afterward, respectively. InfoWorld editor at large Paul Krill sat down with Prashant Sridharan, Microsoft group product manager for Visual Studio, to discuss Microsoft's tool plans as well as issues such as the level of developer talent available.

This is the 10th anniversary of Visual Studio. You mentioned how it started out as kind of a hodgepodge of different products and how it's evolved over the years. What do you think of how the platform has evolved over the past 10 years?

We've been able to deliver a very productive, very approachable framework for developers. With a combination of IntelliSense and the framework simplicity and elegance itself, developers can be immediately productive using the framework. And as we add new features and new functionality to the framework, things like Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), and so on, again, they fall into the same ethos of simplicity, approachability, elegance, and so on. Developers can take the skills they've learned and continue to grow those skills with the latest and greatest platforms.

What is the status of Net 3.0, which features WPF, WCF, and so on?

.Net Framework 3.0 is available now. Let's just step back for a second. Visual Studio 2005 shipped with .Net Framework 2.0. We've shipped .Net Framework 3.0, which includes WPF, WCF, Windows Workflow Foundation, and CardSpace. And then there are no tools for that, which is why we shipped a number of extensions, which are now available on msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio. These are extensions to Visual Studio 2005 that enable you to target .Net Framework 3.0. .Net Framework 3.5 is the next version of the .Net Framework, and that will ship coincident with Visual Studio Orcas. And when we ship.Net Framework 3.5 and when we ship Visual Studio Orcas, a lot of those tools, like the designer surface for WPF, the designer surface for WCF, and so on, all those features and all those tools will be built in Visual Studio Orcas.

What are some of the other new features in .Net Framework 3.5?

It's the continuation of WPF, WCF, Windows Workflow, and so on. [There are] continuing scalability [and] performance enhancements in the framework and the CLR (Common Language Runtime) itself, and I'm sure there are a number of other features as well. I think the biggest feature, the biggest new feature in .Net Framework 3.5 is LINQ, the Language Integrated Query, which provides much better programmatic access to databases and data sources.

Has Microsoft sold a million copies of Visual Studio 2005?

Over a million professional developers [are] using Visual Studio 2005 today, that's from our internal tracking studies. It's a pretty significant number, given where we are in the release of Visual Studio. I think it speaks not only to the solidity of Visual Studio itself, but it also speaks to the maturity of our industry.

In what way?

Developers are more amenable to taking on the latest and greatest technologies, more willing to trust Visual Studio as a tool that they can pick up very easily.

Is Microsoft planning anything as far as open source? NetBeans and Eclipse are open source, you can go get them for nothing. How much is a copy of Visual Studio?

Well, so there's a couple of things or misnomers there. I think if you look at tool features, Eclipse versus Visual Studio, I think you'll find that [with] the programmer productivity tools there, Visual Studio may be better in some areas, Eclipse may be better in other areas. I think you can have a good, healthy comparison between the products. I think the team collaboration stuff is where we really differentiate ourselves. Team collaboration in Visual Studio is designed from the onset with integration in mind. We have some advantages where we started with a clean slate. We didn't have legacy software to service, for example. But to that end, we were able to build integration as the primary feature, and that integration really does enable a greater ability to collaborate, communicate within software teams.

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