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Unify Your Visual Studio Experience

The Visual Studio 2013 Preview brings a new connected experience to Visual Studio developers. According to a Visual Studio Blog post by Anthony Cangialosi, lead senior program manager for the Visual Studio Platform Team, the Preview allows developers to "sign in to Visual Studio with a Microsoft account to enable features like synchronized settings that will roam with [the developer] to [his] other Visual Studio devices." Cangialosi added: "This is just the beginning of a personalized and productive connected experience that over time will include more features taking advantage of the primary Microsoft account to deliver value to [developers]."

Cangialosi explained the new connectivity features in terms of online identities. He noted that many developers have several online identities, both for business and personal use; these identities are often associated with one or more Microsoft accounts for work, while personal identities are often connected to a developer's mobile or tablet device.

"To model how developers work with multiple online identities we are introducing a top-level online identity, for [a developer] to sign in with [his] existing Microsoft account, that is the primary online identity for the Visual Studio IDE," Cangialosi wrote. "This identity is used to synchronize settings across all devices and stays active even when using a feature like Team Explorer or Store publishing with its own connections. [A developer] can sign in to Visual Studio on all [his] devices with this personal identity and Visual Studio will download [his] preferred settings like theme and key bindings and keep all devices in sync that are signed in under this identity."

He noted that moving between the different identities maintained under the top-level identity is made possible with secure credential storage. "Visual Studio automatically keeps [the developer] signed in to [his] primary online identity and remembers the credentials so settings immediately start roaming and [he] can quickly access Team Foundation Service accounts without having to enter [his] password each time," Cangialosi explained.

One reason to synchronize Visual Studio settings, Cangialosi noted, is to simplify the setup of a new device. "To get [developers] up and running on new machines more quickly, we redesigned the first launch experience to integrate [a developer's] online identity so Visual Studio starts up with [his] preferred settings," he explained. Once a developer sets up his preferred Visual Studio environment, including colors and themes, these preferences will be automatically transferred to any new devices he signs onto. Preferences can be changed at any time, and those changes will be made to all the developer's connected devices.

Developers "can use any valid Microsoft account to sign in to the Visual Studio 2013 Preview," Cangialosi wrote. Currently, the Preview is available as a pre-release 14-day trial. This is intended to allow the Visual Studio team time "to gather usage data to scale out and support millions of connected users by the time we ship," he explained.

"There are many new opportunities to personalize and improve Visual Studio experiences as we connect to new cloud services and capabilities," Cangialosi wrote. Developers will "see more features throughout Visual Studio use [their] primary identity to connect to online services and expose new connected features ... Visual Studio [will also] do a better job of remembering credentials for more connected experiences."

About the Author

Katrina Carrasco is the associate group managing editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group. She can be reached at kcarrasco@1105media.com.

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