At the end of March, Microsoft made the Beta 2 version of Visual Studio 2005 available; along with .NET Framework 2.0, this is what's been code-named "Whidbey". It includes SQL Server 2005 so as to facilitate and speed construction of data-driven applications. MSDN members can download the beta for free; others can order a copy of the beta on CD at no charge—except possibly a nominal fee (usually, around $5.00) for shipping and handling—but must step through the entire order process anyway. I placed my order on May 16 and was still able to qualify for free shipping; by the time you read this, you may or may not be so lucky. Previous betas have shown up in my mailbox in as little as four days by US mail, but the Web site says to expect delivery "within 2-4 weeks, depending on availability of product and ship to location."
Along with the materials included with this release, Microsoft is also offering what it calls a "Go-Live License." Basically, this license permits developers to release code built to Beta 2 versions of Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2, plus various related beta 2 releases of programming languages (Express editions of Visual Basic 2005, Visual C# 2005, Visual C++ 2005, and Visual J# 2005) and related tools and utilities. The code is unsupported and will be superseded when the commercial release itself goes live, but this gives developers something they can not only build on, but use, until they can migrate to a commercial version.
What do developers get for jumping on this bandwagon? The details are spelled out in a set of documents from Microsoft (links to these later), but the quick and dirty version of what's new and interesting includes:
- Access to enhanced application wizards for various types of projects, including Win32 Smart Devices, ATL Smart Devices, and MFC Smart Device applications, dlls, and ActiveX controls.
- Enhanced support for more types of mobile and smart devices, including Pocket PC, Smartphone devices, and more. Deployment of related applications, resource file management, device emulation, Smartphone menus, and other device support elements are also upgraded.
- Authenticode signing for Windows Mobile-based device applications.
- Enhanced support for Visual 2005 language compilation and configuration options.
- MFC 8.0 support in tandem with the .NET Compact Framework, along with updates to the Active Template Library (ATL) and standard libraries for C++ (SCL).
See "What's New in Visual Studio 2005 for Native Developers" and "What's New for Developers in Windows Mobile 5.0" for more information.
A final cautionary note for those who have installed Visual Studio 2005 betas that predate the Beta 2 release: it's not only necessary to un-install the pre-Beta2 components before installing Beta 2, it's also important that this activity be peformed in a precise and specific order. Detailed instructions are available, along with a link to a free (but unsupported) clean-up tool.
Ed Tittel is a full-time writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security topics. E-mail Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review.