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Redmond Taps Zander to Head VS Group

Jason Zander takes over Redmond’s Visual Studio team.

Microsoft has reorganized its developer division, tapping .NET Framework GM Jason Zander to oversee the team that puts together Visual Studio.

The move took place on Sept. 14. Zander, who gave a keynote address at the VSLive! conference in New York, says his duties overseeing the .NET Framework will be shared by Scott Guthrie, general manager for the tools division and others on the .NET development team.

"We have asked some of those folks to step up and continue driving it," Zander told RDN after giving his VSLive! keynote. Both Guthrie and Zander will report to S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate VP for the developer division. Also reporting to Somasegar is Andrew Kass, who will oversee Visual Studio Team System.

Zander previously reported to Guthrie. As peers, the two will be working closely together. "The developer division on the framework and tool side always worked closely and that will not change," Zander says. "It's an exciting opportunity."

Zander takes over the GM position held previously by Craig Symonds. According to Microsoft, Symonds has been assigned to a new incubation project. The company declined to provide details.

Q&A: Jason Zander Goes Deep on New DevDiv Role

RDN: What's first on your agenda?
Zander: My first task, given [Visual Studio] 2008 is almost done, is to work on the next version of Visual Studio. We are already working on product planning and features, which also includes language features -- languages are now under me as well. That includes the next version of C#, VB and all the dynamic languages as well.

Will you be overseeing Visual Studio Team System as well?
Visual Studio Team System will fall under a group next to me, so what we wind up with is essentially three general managers that make up the .NET/VS products.

Scott Guthrie will have all the runtime pieces, the CLR, ASP.NET and WPF, that sort of thing. I have Visual Studio, all of the compilers, the languages, the Visual Studio shell and IDE, Office [for developers], PopFly.

The third business will be Visual Studio Team System, which of course is TFS and the advanced suite products, which are built on top of the first two. All three will work closely together. Andrew Kass is the general manager for that group.

All three of us will report to S. "Soma" Somasegar, the corporate VP for the developer division.

Who will oversee the work you were doing with the .NET Framework?
I had a wonderful staff that owned the product. My team has 300 people. We've asked some of those folks to step up and continue driving it. Plus, Scott [Guthrie, who is] doing some of the other stuff I did as GM, will pick up some of those responsibilities.

Most organizations are still on earlier versions of the .NET Framework. Are you pleased with the progress?
We're making really good progress. In the end it comes down to what organizations are running in their enterprises, and what new features they're looking for. I personally feel we've added some compelling new features in the .NET Framework 3.0, WCF, WPF, CardSpace, Workflow. There's a whole bunch of advanced features, we're seeing a whole bunch of uptake of WPF, especially the ISV segment.

Are you anticipating quick uptake to Visual Studio 2008, or will it be phased?
I think people will be interested. It solves some concrete problems, such as JavaScript integration. If you're a JavaScript developer writing hundreds of thousands of lines of codes, it's a painful proposition today.

-- J.S..

Impact on Visual Studio 2008
Key business these days in the developer division is the upcoming release of Visual Studio (VS) 2008, code-named "Orcas."

"We don't have any firm announce dates other than the launch date in February," he says. "But honestly, we're working on wrapping up all the content well before the launch. Stay tuned -- probably some time later this year, you will start seeing the final release candidate bits coming out from people."

Zander says his next priority will be to assess the future of Visual Studio. On his agenda: improving productivity features. "There's a bunch of easily defined things in Expression, there's some techniques we can pull into Visual Studio to make it easier to find features and functionality," he says.

Meanwhile he is also confident that there will be quick uptake for VS 2008, particularly as more organizations look to deploy the .NET Framework 3.0.

"I think people will be interested. It solves some concrete problems people were going to solve, such as JavaScript integration," he says.

But one thing that could be a painful proposition is cost, not just of the software but in relation to training and getting teams onto the same release.

Thomas Coleman, chief technology officer of FilmTrack Software Corp., a supplier of software for film distributors based in Studio City, Calif., says Orcas should provide a smoother transition than the prior upgrade: "VS 2008 seems like an evolutionary change. It's not a huge paradigm shift for developers."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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