Improvements are multiple and wide ranging for this long-awaited tool set. Among Orcas' high points are: LINQ integrated query building using either C# or Visual Basic for objects, databases and XML data; improved unit and load test capabilities; AJAX-style Web client design; Jscript IntelliSense support; full integration of Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) with Visual Studio; and support for deployment of runtimes to multiple versions of the .NET Framework.
With this release also appears the ADO.NET Entity Framework allowing developers to program against relational data as entities. Moreover, with this release, VBA-VSTO integration takes a step forward as developers are now able to access VSTO add-ins from VBA application code.
The company's newly minted Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) gains a useful tool via the WPF Designer, formerly known as Cider - although, at release time, WPF Designer has to be patched onto VB Express and VC# Express. To date, with Orca and Microsoft Expression Blend design tool, admitted Somasegar in conversation with TechTarget editors this week, "you had to do a lot of hand coding."
"Orcas is the best tool set for the latest platform," said Somasegar, pointing to the tools' extensive support for ASP.NET AJAX, Windows Vista and Office 2007 client building as examples.
More on Visual Studio Orcas from Microsoft:
Visual Studio Orcas Beta notes on S. Somasegar blog
Visual Studio Orcas Beta download information