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MS forges new tools

Now that MS has introduced its new technologies, it's time to get into the nitty-gritty of its next-generation Visual Studio development tool bundle.

Microsoft (MSFT) has blanketed attendees at this week's Professional Developers Conference with new technologies and broad frameworks. On Friday, the company will get down to the nitty-gritty of explaining its next generation of development tools for building software to support those new technologies.

In a morning presentation, Paul Gross, vice president of developer tools, will detail the next two versions of Microsoft's Visual Studio development tool bundle, which includes Visual Basic, Visual C++, Visual J++, Visual InterDev, and other tools.

The bundle will be reworked to better support COM+, the next generation of the company's component architecture, and Windows Distributed interNet Applications (DNA) architecture, the new overarching name for existing and future Windows technologies, such as COM, reworked to be more Web-aware.

The next version of Visual Studio, code-named Aspen, will add support for Internet Explorer 4.0 controls, dynamic HTML, and Windows NT 5.0-specific technology and infrastructure components, such as the upcoming Microsoft Message Queue server, Active Directory services, and Microsoft's Zero Administration technologies, Gross said.

Aspen will be delivered in stages, culminating in a final delivery in the first half of next year. The first part of the tool set has already been delivered in the form of a Visual Studio Service Pack that shipped last month, said Gross.

Microsoft is also planning to deliver an update to its Visual C++ development tool early next month to add support for Internet Explorer 4.0 control development, dynamic HTML, Active Data Objects, and OLE DB, the company's universal data access API (Application Programming Interface).

A second future release of Visual Studio, code-named Rainier, is being developed in tandem with Aspen, Gross said. That release will deliver COM+ technology support, additional tools targeted at Windows NT 5.0, and specific OLE DB support for Microsoft's next-generation database server, code-named Sphinx. Sphinx uses OLE DB as its primary data access interface.

Rainier delivery is slated for sometime later next year.

Pricing for the tool releases has not been determined. The current version of Visual Studio is priced from $999.

On a related topic, Gross said development work code-named Vegas, which has been rumored to be a next-generation Java tool, is in fact only related to user interface enhancements for Visual Studio, intended to unify the look and feel of the various development tools. "It's the code word for some RAD features for integrated development environment," said Gross.