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Partners boost Visual Studio 6.0

The software giant is partnering to add a handful of new features to the Visual Studio development tool package.

Microsoft (MSFT), attempting to move its Visual Studio development tool package further upscale into large IS departments, today said it is partnering to add a handful of new features to the toolset.

Company executives also said that a new version of Visual Studio has entered limited beta testing and will ship this summer.

That version, code named Aspen, will be called Visual Studio 6.0. It will add support for IE 4.0 controls, dynamic HTML, and Windows NT 5.0-specific technology and infrastructure components, such as the Microsoft Message Queue server, Active Directory services, and Microsoft's Zero Administration technologies.

Version 6.0--which is actually the second release of the tools package--will include version 6.0 updates of Visual Basic and Visual C++, said L. Gregory Leake, lead product manager for Visual Studio. The version numbering change was made to keep Visual Studio and individual tool release levels in synch, Leake said.

Microsoft today added eight additional partners to a list of Visual Studio supporters that now numbers 38, Leake said. The tool package includes Microsoft's Visual Basic, Visual C++, Visual InterDev, Visual J++, and Visual FoxPro development tools.

The additional tool makers--Unisys, Intersolv, Neuron Data, Object Design, SuperNova, Micro Focus, Riverton Software, and Usoft--will get access to technical information to link their tools to Visual Studio. Microsoft will also provide marketing support.

The strategy is to give developers access to tools and technologies outside of those produced by Microsoft, Leake said. Object Design, for instance, will supply links to its ObjectStore object database from Visual Studio, while SuperNova will add links to its operating system-independent component assembly tools.

The larger strategy is to keep developers in the Microsoft fold, no matter what type of application they build, and to offer a comprehensive tool lineup that makes the company's Windows NT operating system more attractive to corporate developers.

Microsoft also said it will now include Microsoft Visual Modeler, an application modeling tool developed in conjunction with Rational Software, as part of Visual Studio Enterprise Edition. The tool is used to model applications.

A second future release of Visual Studio, code-named Rainier, is being developed in tandem with Aspen, Microsoft product managers have 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 SQL Server 7.0 database server. That release uses OLE DB as its primary data access interface.

Rainier delivery is slated for sometime later this year.

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