One of most anticipated features of this release is the new Language Integrated Query. LINQ embeds queries for entities, collections, datasets, objects and even XML within .NET programming languages. Moreover, to embed LINQ within Visual Basic and C#, Microsoft injected new features into both languages, including Anonymous Types, Extension Methods and Query Syntax.
Additional new or improved features in Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5 include the following:
- ASP.NET AJAX and Visual Studio Tools for Office, which were previously available as downloadable add-ins to Visual Studio, are included with VS 2008.
- The .NET Framework 3.0 libraries have been updated, with a Windows Communication Foundation designer, WCF support for RSS and REST and better interaction between WCF and Windows Workflow Foundation among the improvements.
- Visual Studio Team System and Team Foundation server also received a refresh; these features include support for SharePoint 2007, new code analysis rules and check-in policies, better support for testing Ajax applications and continuous integration of builds.
More details on the highlights of Visual Studio 2008 and the .NET Framework can be found in the blog entries Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5 Released by Scott Guthrie and Visual Basic 2008 Ships by Amanda Silver.
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced two Visual Studio 2008 licensing changes.
One, solutions built with the Visual Studio 2008 SDK (Software Development Kit) will not be limited to Windows or other Microsoft platforms, as they had been limited in the past.
Two, Premier-level VSIP partners can view Visual Studio 2008 source code for debugging purposes and see how their VS extensions are interacting with Visual Studio itself.
In October, Scott Guthrie indicated that source code for the .NET Framework 3.5 will be released shortly after the framework itself is available.
Nonetheless, Visual Studio 2008 is still slated to be part of Microsoft's big "marketing launch" at the end of February, 2008, along with Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008.