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'Orcas' Is Released--Finally

It's here at last! Visual Studio 2008, formerly code-named "Orcas," has been released. MSDN subscribers can download full versions of Visual Studio from MSDN subscriber downloads: If you're having trouble with downloading from the MSDN subscriber links in the "Top Downloads" section, log into your subscription and go into the main download area and download from there using the File Transfer Manager. The links from the "Top Downloads" use Akamai as the download manager and there have been many reports of developers having trouble using it successfully.

If you aren't an MSDN subscriber, you can still grab a copy of Visual Studio 2008. You have two main choices: Download a 90-day trial or download an Express Edition. The Express Editions are free and are targeted more at the first-time user, student, or hobbyist. You can install the Express Editions over the Internet or download a single DVD image (approximately 900MB) that contains all five express editions.

When it comes time to install VS 2008, be it a full, trial, or Express Edition, make sure you've removed all previous versions of VS 2008 betas or CTPs, including the extra applications they install such as the Microsoft 2007 document viewer. If you have Visual Studio 2005 installed on your machine, your VS 2005 settings will be migrated to VS 2008. This is good for the most part, but if you run into problems starting Visual Studio 2008, the most likely cause is an add-in for VS 2005 not working correctly in VS 2008. To fix the problem, unload the add-in by launching Visual Studio from a command line with the safemode option. Simply type devenv.exe/safemode and then select Add-in Manager from the Tool menu and disable the add-ins.

Visual Source Safe for Visual Studio 2008 hasn't been released yet, but it's expected to be released soon. In the meantime, you can get Visual Source Safe 2005 working with VS 2008 by downloading a CTP release. See Richard Berg's blog entry for details and download the VSS 2005 update.

You can also download the Silverlight 1.1 Tools Alpha for Visual Studio 2008. Silverlight 1.1 lets you use managed code (VB or C#) in a Silverlight Web application. On Nov. 29, Silverlight 1.1 was renamed to Silverlight 2.0 and a new go-live beta is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2008. In the meantime, the 1.1 Alpha for Visual Studio 2008 provides the latest tools for working with Silverlight and managed code.

VS 2008 comes with the new Microsoft Report Viewer. These components let you display SQL Server reports in WinForms and ASP.NET. To distribute your application to a Web server or to a client running your WinForms application, you'll need to include the Report Viewer Runtimes. You can obtain these here. Similarly, if you develop applications for Office 2007 using Visual Studio 2008, you'll need to include Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office system version 3 runtime. You can obtain this package here.

The Visual Studio 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5 Training Kit contains labs, demos, and PowerPoint presentations to help get you started with Visual Studio 2008. The content is apparently what was used with some partner ISV's, although some of the presentations sound like Microsoft's internal content to train their developer evangelists. The materials includes "LINQ, C# 3.0, Visual Basic 9, WCF, WF, WPF, ASP.NET AJAX, VSTO, CardSpace, SilverLight, Mobile, and Application Lifecycle Management." Download the training kit here.

Still want more from Visual Studio 2008? Well, as the old adage goes: "If you want something done right, do it yourself." Visual Studio 2008 SDK is there to help you do just that. This is the toolkit you need if you want to extend the IDE. The 2008 version finally includes VB as a VSIP project type, but most of the examples are in C# still. Get the SDK here.

About the Author

Bill McCarthy is an independent consultant based in Australia and is one of the foremost .NET language experts specializing in Visual Basic. He has been a Microsoft MVP for VB for the last nine years and sat in on internal development reviews with the Visual Basic team for the last five years where he helped to steer the language’s future direction. These days he writes his thoughts about language direction on his blog at http://msmvps.com/bill.

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