Visual Studio Service Pack 1 Not Fully Compatible with Vista

Workarounds being provided. Complete support for Vista in VS 2005 will come after SP1 ships.

Despite all of the hoopla around Windows Vista's launch, Microsoft officials have quietly disclosed that Visual Studio (VS) 2005 Service Pack 1 (SP1) will lack full compatibility with the new operating system. The reason: Microsoft was trying to deliver too much at once.

The company recently clarified what S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Developer Division, said in an October blog post (

"Visual Studio 2005 SP1 will run on Vista but will likely have a few compatibility issues," read Somasegar's posting. "We are working with the Vista team to understand those, to provide workarounds where possible and also work on providing you with a set of fixes beyond SP1," he continued. That means complete support for Vista in VS 2005 will come after SP1 ships.

The choice, Somasegar said, was to either hold SP1 until it could be implemented with all the compatibility fixes, or get the service pack-with its support for .NET Framework 3.0-out right away. "Based on feedback ... we decided to separate the two," he added. However, he said, Windows Vista will ship with the .NET Framework 3.0 preinstalled.

Further, earlier versions of Visual Studio-notably VS .NET 2003 and 2002-will definitely not be supported going forward, especially those platforms' integrated development environments. That doesn't mean, however, that they're completely unusable. Even in a Vista world, applications can be written on Windows XP using the .NET Frameworks 1.0 and 2.0 and run on Vista, says Jay Roxe, product manager for Visual Studio.

Technical Refresh to Follow SP1 Release
But Microsoft does admit that some applications may not run properly.

Officials say that, following the release of SP1 for VS 2005, Microsoft plans an update, which Roxe refers to as a "technical refresh" of the service pack to fix the Vista incompatibilities. The delay will not be a long wait. "The technical refresh for the service pack will ship soon after commercial availability [of Vista]," he adds.

Somasegar's posting was ostensibly meant to announce the beginning of beta testing for VS 2005 SP1. The company aims to have the final service pack out late this year or early next. But SP1 is designed to address issues reported since the release of Visual Studio 2005 a year ago. (See "What does VS 2005 SP1 Fix?" for bugs fixed in VS 2005 SP1.)

None of the hold up, though, was due to Vista-compatibility issues, says Roxe. Nor will developers face a problem getting their applications certified for the Windows compatibility logo program. "[Developers] will be able to test their apps and get their logo requirements in parallel with this going on," says Roxe. Among other resources for developers, he pointed to Microsoft's Application Compatibility Cookbook. (See here.) "I anticipate seeing a lot of apps announced at [the Vista launch]," he adds.

Issues with User Account Control & Aero Glass
One analyst familiar with Microsoft's plans agrees. "I don't think there are too many developers who are stuck [by the VS compatibility issues]," says Greg DeMichillie, senior analyst for developer tools at industry newsletter Directions on Microsoft.

What's holding up complete Vista compatibility? The User Account Control (UAC) feature, which enhances security by limiting user accounts and processes, stumbles on the debug and system functions in Visual Studio, says DeMichillie. "The same kinds of things that debuggers do are the same things that malware does. It's not surprising that a tool like Visual Studio is going to run afoul of UAC."

What does VS 2005 SP1 Fix?

Here's a list of issues (by KB article number) fixed by SP1.

  • 898904: Update to the Web Project Conversion Wizard in Visual Studio 2005
  • 910832: FIX: The IDE stops responding when you work with nested generic types in C# in Visual Studio 2005
  • 911281: FIX: A native application takes a long time to start when you try to debug the application by using Visual Studio 2005
  • 915038: FIX: You may receive Visual Basic compiler error messages when you are developing a Visual Basic 2005 project in Visual Studio 2005
  • 916769: FIX: The Visual Studio 2005 IDE stops responding when you work with a large Visual C++ .NET solution in Visual Studio 2005
  • 917036: FIX: The Visual Studio 2005 IDE may corrupt the deployment files for a Web Setup Project and for a Setup Project
  • 917452: FIX: You may experience performance issues when you use solutions that contain large Visual Basic projects in Visual Studio 2005
  • 918559: FIX: You may experience slow performance and increased memory usage when you start the debugger for a Visual C++ project in Visual Studio 2005

Vista's new graphical user interface environment, Aero Glass, is also an issue.

The next major release of VS, code-named "Orcas," will provide more complete support of Vista's features, including Vista's user-interface language, XAML. Microsoft delivered the first public Community Technology Preview of Orcas at the end of September.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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