Microsoft to release Visual Studio 2015 ahead of Windows 10

The question: how much new stuff will still be in preview?

Microsoft will release Visual Studio 2015, along with .Net Framework 4.6 and the Team Foundation Server 2015 source code management and collaboration product, on July 20, nine days ahead of the general availability of Windows 10, according to an announcement by developer veep S "Soma" Somasegar.

Visual Studio 2015 is critically important to Microsoft’s Windows strategy. The software giant is aiming to attract developers to the new Universal Windows Platform, which enables the same apps to run on multiple Windows 10 device types including PCs, smartphones, and the Xbox One games console.

Another part of the strategy, also enabled in Visual Studio 2015, is to persuade developers to use Microsoft’s tools and technologies of target operating systems other than Windows. The new IDE can build mobile apps for iOS and Android as well as Windows Mobile, and it even includes an Android emulator based on Hyper-V, Microsoft's virtualization hypervisor. It also allows developers to write web applications in ASP.Net (now at version 5.0), Python, or Node.js that run on Linux and OS X as well as Windows.

Developers that remain hooked on Visual Studio, rather than migrating to alternatives like Apple’s Xcode or Google’s Android Studio, are more likely also to include Windows in their plans, and to use Microsoft's online services – deploying mobile backends on Azure (the company’s cloud platform), for example.

Some of the tools bundled with Visual Studio are sourced from other parties, including Xamarin’s compilers for running C# apps on iOS, Android, and Mac, and the Apache Cordova open source project, which lets you build cross-platform mobile apps with HTML and JavaScript. Only the free Xamarin Starter Edition is included with Visual Studio, though, so developers with significant applications will need to purchase an additional license.

Tools such as Project Astoria (for porting Android applications to Windows 10 Mobile), Project Islandwood (for compiling Objective C for Windows 10), and Project Centennial (for packaging native Windows desktop apps for the Windows Store), are not yet release-ready and no shipping dates have been announced.

Running ASP.Net applications on Linux or Mac requires an open-source fork of the .Net Framework called .Net Core. Somasegar’s announcement said the final release of .Net 4.6 will be available on July 20 but did not mention .NET Core, and it is possible that some parts will still be in preview when Visual Studio 2015 ships.

Another promised new feature in Visual Studio 2015 is the ability to publish ASP.Net 5 applications to Windows or Linux using a Docker container – but again, it would not be surprising if this remains in preview.

“Roslyn”, the code name for Microsoft’s new compiler platform, is also part of Visual Studio and powers new features such as extensible code completion and refactoring, and the ability to generate unit tests automatically.

The new IDE supports C# 6.0, Visual Basic 14, and F# 4.0, the latest versions of Microsoft’s .NET languages. An update to Visual C++ will include new support for the official standards in C++11, C++14, and parts of C++17. TypeScript 1.4, a language which compiles to JavaScript, is also included in the bundle, as is a beta release of TypeScript 1.5.

This is a significant release for Microsoft and for Windows, given Redmond's ongoing journey towards cross-platform support in its mobile and web application technologies, and new ways to build applications for Windows 10. With so much still in preview, however, it should be seen as a milestone rather than the destination. ®

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