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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