Last week's release of Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1, with support for Windows Vista and .NET 3.0, was bound to be met with criticism. The company had missed its target release date for SP 1 by several months, not to mention that the release is actually a beta, with the true SP 1 coming in three or four months.
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Instead, the company has received much heat for an announcement that came along with VS 2005 SP 1 -- that Vista will not support the Visual Studio 2002 or Visual Studio 2003 development environments. Several developers have blogged about their frustration with Microsoft; meanwhile, some are defending the company.
"While I understand Microsoft is focusing their efforts on supporting VS2005, I would think you generally have a few good brain cells to know that most people haven't switched over/upgraded yet and it's not going to happen overnight for some (most?) apps. So why wouldn't you support the masses?" Bil Simser wonders here in his blog.
Frans Bouma indicates here on his blog that he is one of those developers who is supporting .NET 1.1 and thus needs Visual Studio 2003. "[W]hat's wrong with VS.NET 2003's IDE that makes it refuse to run on Vista?....I'd like to know up front before I have to repave my [W]indows installation because the upgrade process to Vista rendered my VS.NET 2003 installation useless. "
Bouma also notes the irony that VS 2002 and VS 2003 are not supported but that a "stone-age IDE called Visual Basic 6 is supported on Vista."
Paul Wilson wonders here in his blog if there is any reason for developers to upgrade to Vista at all, especially since Windows XP supports .NET 3.0. "[E]ither MS should delay Vista until its really ready and useful for more than generating income, or we developers need to tell everyone to ignore Vista since its clearly not ready," Wilson concludes.
Scott Guthrie, asasdasdasd for Microsoft, offers a bit of clarity for the situation in a comment posted on Wilson's blog.
"VS 2003 will mostly work on Vista. What we are saying, though, is that there will be some scenarios where VS 2003 doesn't work (or work well) on Vista -- hence the reason it isn't a supported scenario," Guthrie writes, adding that Vista will support .NET 1.1 at runtime.
As for the presence of known issues with Visual Studio 2005 SP1 and Vista, Guthrie says these are related to advanced debugging and other security scenarios on the new operating system.
As stated, Microsoft does have some defenders in this controversy.
Jon Galloway writes here that the situation no doubt could have been handled better, but he cautions against jumping to conclusions. "Does 'not supported' mean it will blue screen your computer and set you on fire, or does it mean it'll mostly work with the occasional annoyance? It seems like it may be the latter," Galloway says.
Moreover, Stephen Bohlen writes in response to the TheServerSide.NET posting, Visual Studio vs. Vista: What's going on here?, if there is so little demand for enterprise applications to be ready for Vista, then the issue of Vista development, in the near term, is moot. "In some dark corner of the corporate world, there is likely someone drooling over how wonderfully visually-appealing their app will be with transparent tabs," Bohlen writes, "but this person is most definitely in the minority as far as I can tell."
Obviously it is too soon to determine the implications of the Vista/Visual Studio 2005 announcement. What is not in doubt, though, is that Microsoft has some additional explaining to do.