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Microsoft to show off Team tools

Ultimately, a Visual Studio package will compete with products from IBM's Rational unit. Coders will get a peek next month.

Microsoft next month plans to distribute an updated beta version of its Visual Studio 2005 development tool that includes the first fruits of the company's ambitious initiative for team development.

The software giant has put together the early version, or community technology preview, of Visual Studio Team System and will provide it to developers at the VSLive conference in Orlando, Fla., in September, said Rick LaPlante, general manager of the product, in a blog posting earlier this week.

LaPlante said the server software for team development will run in conjunction with the , which was released earlier this summer. A final version of Visual Studio 2005 is set for completion in the first half of next year.

Visual Studio Team System includes , formerly code-named Whitehorse, which are meant to help developers more rapidly build Web services applications with visual design tools. The collaboration-oriented programming setup is also designed to minimize glitches that can occur when companies deploy custom-written applications in corporate data centers.

The product is an important and much-anticipated addition to Microsoft's tools lineup. Designed to help the software giant meet the needs of large development teams writing complex applications, it will compete with application development suites from other companies, including Borland Software and IBM's Rational tools division.

Rational, which was acquired by IBM in late 2002, continues to sell so-called application development life cycle tools for Microsoft's .Net development software. But analysts have noted that Team System will enable Microsoft to provide an alternative to Rational.

LaPlante said the official name of the early beta is Visual Studio Beta 1 refresh with the Team System. He noted that not all the collaborative capabilities are of beta quality yet.