Visual Studio 2012 and Windows 8 Released to Developers

Microsoft is making the Visual Studio 2012 tooling available to all developers on August 15. MSDN subscribers can also access Windows 8 for testing purposes, starting today.

Microsoft released Visual Studio 2012 and .NET Framework 4.5 on Wednesday, providing developers with the final tools for building Windows 8 applications. The tooling comes roughly two months prior to October 26, the general availability date of the Windows 8 operating system, according to Microsoft.

The next generation tooling, developed in step with the modernized Windows 8 platform, was first released to developers as a Developer Preview at the Microsoft BUILD event in September 2011. Developer feedback sparked changes throughout the testing cycle, particularly when Microsoft introduced a revamped user interface with the beta release in February, to mixed reviews. The Visual Studio product lineup, along with pricing, was announced in May.The Release Candidate arrived later that month.

With today's releases, Microsoft is altering its standard procedure of first dibs for MSDN subscribers and instead, making the Visual Studio 2012 tooling available to all developers on August 15. MSDN subscribers, however, can access the Windows 8 RTM for testing purposes, starting today. Developers without an MSDN subscription can download a 90-day trial of the Windows 8 Enterprise edition. The company also released the Windows 8 RTM to TechNet subscribers so that IT professionals can begin testing the new operating system.

Windows 8, which was released to manufacturing at the beginning of August, enables developers to build and finalize their Windows 8 desktop and Metro-style applications. Microsoft is reporting some minor changes between the Windows 8 Release Preview and the Windows 8 RTM. The builds released to developers do not include Windows RT, the version of Windows 8 for ARM-based tablets, which is designed for Metro-style applications only. In recent weeks, reports have surfaced suggesting that Microsoft may back away from Metro branding with the commercialization of Windows 8.

Microsoft released the final versions of Visual Studio 2012, .NET Framework 4.5, Visual Studio 2012 Test Professional, Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012 and the Visual Studio 2012 Software Developer Kit. The Visual Studio 2012 default target for managed applications, running on Windows Vista or higher, is .NET 4.5. It's important to note that .NET 4.5 is an in-place upgrade. With preview versions of the IDE, developers have reported potential issues with "Targeting .NET 4" and bug fixes in .NET 4.5 that could cause problems in applications that run on Windows XP, for example.

Visual Studio 2012 Ultimate is the company's all-in-one Application Lifecycle Management platform. It integrates all of the tools (including the higher end testing functionality and design tools) with Visual Studio Team Foundation Server for team collaboration. Visual Studio 2012 Premium offers most of the diagnostic and testing tools without the high level architecture and modeling support. Visual Studio 2012 Professional is the entry-level developer product. Visual Studio LightSwitch, previously a standalone product based on Silverlight, is now available in all three editions. All of the Visual Studio 2012 products require Windows 7 or higher.

The free Visual Studio Express 2012 tools for Windows 8 (Metro-style apps) and the Web are also available for download, starting today. The free Express tools for Windows Desktop (originally dropped from the lineup and then added after developers balked) and Windows Phone are expected later this fall, according to Microsoft Corporate Vice President S. Somasegar, who heads the Developer Division.

Visual Studio 2012 supports Office 2013 and Windows Phone 8 development but the tooling for the upcoming Office and the Windows Phone platforms is not part of the August 15th downloads, according to Jason Zander, Microsoft corporate vice president of the Visual Studio team. A preview of the Microsoft Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012 was released last month when the company officially introduced Office 2013 along with the new Cloud App Model for extensibility across client applications and the Web in Office and SharePoint 2013.

The official Visual Studio 2012 Virtual Launch Event is September 12. Hosted by Microsoft's Somasegar and Zander, the launch event will be streamed live (and available on-demand) for developers worldwide. It's scheduled for the same day that Apple is rumored to be launching iPhone 5 and other products.

Microsoft's second, annual BUILD event is taking place October 30 to November 2, less than a week after Windows 8 is expected to become generally available. The event, hosted on the Redmond Campus, sold out within an hour on August 8, the first day of registration, according to Microsoft. Interested developers can still sign up for a wait list.

Developers can get the Visual Studio 2012 downloads, including 90-day trial versions and the free Express tooling here. MSDN subscribers can get the Visual Studio 2012 downloads and Windows 8 here.

About the Author

Kathleen Richards is the editor of and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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Reader Comments:

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 Roger Spokane WA

don't know who/where else to ask.... I have been using business applications ( crm, and several types of lists) personally developed by me using VB6 and XP. I am now using Windows 8. How can I clone these systems??? Thank you for your help and ideas

Fri, Oct 19, 2012 Harold

Someone suggested I download themes: Bryce suggest I try a different theme . For me the Tan theme evoked and immediate physical response. I think this is tolerable. I have used it for several minutes without pain.

Thu, Sep 13, 2012 Greece

Worst UI ever. A total disapointment. I dont recall to had this feeling for a brand new product

Wed, Sep 5, 2012 M.C. United States

To those who say not using an application because of its UI is dumb I suggest you wake and smell the coffee and take a look at the marketplace today. Apple has gain market dominance in certain areas based on their UI. It is the UI that can make or break an application. VS2012 in its current form will be a TOTAL failure in the marketplace. Right now you freeware/shareware apps with a bewtter UI.

Thu, Aug 30, 2012

There are no freely available add-ins available that let you choose what the UI looks like. You have two choices, migraine white and IBM 3270 emulator. They have taken all of the things that they've been telling us NEVER to do for the past ten years and combined them all into one very, very, very, very painful user interface. They have icons that don't mean anything, panels that aren't panels anymore, navigation that is counter-intuitive. I am guessing that the signs in the metro system in Seattle look like they do because they can't afford to do anything better, not because they look good or work all that well. Would they really choose that awful design if they had the choice? Maybe "metro" works OK when the sign is 3 feet by 15 feet, but as an icon that is .25in square, the same design (made into black and white) becomes ridiculous. IT DOES NOT TRANSLATE

Tue, Aug 21, 2012 Micke Sweden

What freely available add-in do you say can fix the look of VS2012? I sure can't find any. The look is horrendous enough to make me cancel my msdn subscription unless they *quickly* fix this mess. It's worse than eclipse!

Mon, Aug 20, 2012

All the complaints about the UI are kind of taking away from what we should really be discussing, which is actual functionality of the product. Look... they already conceded that the ALL CAPS menu probably wasn't for everybody and included an option to turn it off. As far as UI themes go, a freely-available add-in let's you completely customize the UI colors. The only thing we really don't have control over is how the icons look and this is more of a "getting used to it" problem than a true usability issue. Get over the UI already!

Sun, Aug 19, 2012 Tom

"Not using a product because of it's UI is plain dumb." - Have you used it for the past several months? Do you also use VS2010? If so, and if you can use it then that's great, more power to you. But there are quite a number of us who really are having a very hard time physically focusing on the darn thing as it causes us massive eye strain - I kid you not. Also I (as many others) are finding it less productive because it's difficult to pick things out quickly. Case in point: In VS2010 if you have hundreds of files in the solution explorer the color usage allowed us to quickly find what we needed. Now w/2012 it's an exercise in patience and anger management. The icons are also a pain in the arse and take longer to find things. If that's not enough, take a look at the architecture explorer and try drilling down into a class and you'll find no clear window separation but rather a sea of grey - everything blends too much. In general I find my eyes are looking for graphical detail in this UI that just isn't there. Point is there is no reason why Microsoft needed to NOT provide us with the 'classic' theme that we're all familiar with.

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 Marc Irving, TX

Just installed 2012. Closed all windows (Solution, etc.). All I see is a white screen with a menu bar screaming at me.

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 Krunal Singapore

Flat UI interface is the biggest turn off in adapting VS2012. All the icons are made up with poor imagination. To me it seems like Microsoft is pushing us in windows 3.1 era except the icons were bigger during that time.

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 Michel Lemay

VS2012 is a solid upgrade in the C++/STL front.. Not using a product because of it's UI is plain dumb.

Thu, Aug 16, 2012

Is Microsoft completely apathetic to the fact that THOUSANDS of developers HATE the look and feel of the new Visual Studio UI?!?! I echo the sentiment of many others who have stated categorically that they will stick with VS2010 (or maybe even try a different dev environment) until MS listens to us and fixes the UI: NO ALL CAPS MENUES; Full-Color Icons; a color scheme that neither hurts the eyes ("Light") nor sends you spiraling into a state of despair & depression ("Dark"). Maybe MS needs to send its entire staff to a tropical island for a much-needed dose of sunshine. Maybe that will lift their collective spirits and help them realize that a dreary, depressing color scheme SUCKS. I have always looked forward to the newest version of Visual Studio...Until now! Sad.

Thu, Aug 16, 2012

fugliest UI ever

Wed, Aug 15, 2012

Worst UI yet and Microsoft was told by thousands of people. I will NOT be using this product and if/when I have to migrate off of VS2010, if they haven't brought back reason to the UI, I'll be using other tools. Sure there not as good as VS but at least I can bear to look at them.

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 Kathleen Richards United States

Windows Server 2012 is likely to be released this week on TechNet for customers with volume licensing, according to a Microsoft spokesman. Sept. 4 is the GA date.

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 Kathleen Richards United States

Windows Server 2012 will be available for evaluation on Sept. 4, according to Microsoft.

Wed, Aug 15, 2012

I thought Server 2012 should be available too, but not (yet anyway), do you know when ?

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