The official launch of Visual Studio 2010 and .Net Framework 4 is set for 22 March 2010, with the technology expected to ship around that time.

With Visual Studio 2010, Microsoft is enabling it to be used with platforms such as the upcoming Windows 7 OS a well as with the Windows Azure cloud platform. Team capabilities for application lifecycle management also are critical. Multi-monitor support is featured as well.

The second beta adds capabilities for developing applications for the company's SharePoint collaboration platform. Visual Studio features for SharePoint include the ability to build a new SharePoint project, and build and deploy a SharePoint website and the applications behind it.

"All that happens within Visual Studio," said Dave Mendlen, Microsoft senior director of developer marketing. Microsoft are also due to roll out the 2010 version of SharePoint at the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, at which time company CEO Steve Ballmer also will announce the new beta release of Visual Studio 2010 and .Net Framework 4, Mendlen said.

.Net Framework 4 beta 2 also features SharePoint capabilities and reduces the size of the framework itself by 80 percent, Mendlen said. "The end users, the customers of these applications, will have to download a dramatically smaller runtime," resulting in an improved installation process and less time waiting to get an application running, said Mendlen.

SharePoint capabilities in Visual Studio 2010 should help boost SharePoint, an analyst said.

"SharePoint has grown like wildfire, but development of SharePoint applications has not been as easy because of the lack of tooling within Visual Studio," said Mike Gualtieri. senior analyst at Forrester. "Visual Studio 2010 includes tools for SharePoint development that will make it much more easy for developers to create and deploy SharePoint applications. Now Visual Studio developers can target SharePoint as a platform."

There are no plans for a third beta of Visual Studio 2010.

Also on Monday, Microsoft will elaborate on how its Visual Studio platform is being reduced from nine different packaging options to just three primary options.

"The feedback that we've heard from our customers was [nine options] was too complicated," said Mendlen. "There were too many packages to choose from."

The three primary packages, featuring MSDN subscriptions, include:

  • Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN, featuring the full suite of tools including ALM products. Testing and architecture tools also are featured.
  • Visual Studio 2010 Premium with MSDN, featuring the Visual Studio toolset but lacking some architecture capabilities of the Ultimate edition. Some of Microsoft's ALM suite is included.
  • Visual Studio 2010 Professional with MSDN, for basic development tasks. It includes the core version of Visual Studio.

Users also can purchase Visual Studio 2010 Professional minus a MSDN subscription.

Microsoft also is looking to encourage MSDN subscriptions. New benefits of MSDN include unlimited access to Visual Studio Team Foundation Server upon release, the ability to develop on the Windows Azure cloud computing platform and complementary e-learning of as much as 40 hours per year per subscriber.

"[Developers] can build applications inside of Azure at no cost to them," said Mendlen.

"The inclusion of hours for the Azure platform is very smart," Gualtieri said. "Cloud computing is a given, and will become deployment approach of choice in the next few years."

MSDN customers also will be moved to a higher level of Visual Studio than what they are paying for today, he said.