Microsoft's suite of enterprise products isn't about to let the consumer-facing ones steal the headlines. On the same day the Redmond, Wash. company announced the Release Preview of Windows 8, the company's enterprise and developer software arm announced the release candidates of .NET Framework 4.5, Visual Studio 2012 and Windows Server 2012.
Visual Studio 2012 and .NET Framework 4.5 are available for download by anyone by visiting the Visual Studio 2012 website, while Windows Server 2012 is available only to TechNet and MSDN subscribers by visiting TechNet.
New to Visual Studio is a redesigned logo, tweaked to follow the design cues of the Metro interface. Setup is improved, with install times down 20 percent over previous beta releases according to the company. Installation customization has also been added back in -- a vital consideration for those of us that like to tinker with the install itself to save on hard drive space.
Microsoft says testers will notice appreciable performance boosts throughout VS2012. Debugging, the editing of large C++ files, and XAML performance is all improved, along with user interface changes based on tester feedback -- many having to do with giving VS2012 subtle hints of Metro styling.
[See this post on the Visual Studio blog for more on the UI changes.]
On the Metro front, Microsoft has added and improved tools for building upon the platform, including a host of new templates, and improvements to existing ones.
Microsoft is shipping both VS 2012 and .NET 4.5 with "Go Live" licenses, meaning developers are free to begin using and deploying production applications using these tools.
Windows Server 2012 also is out today, and is aimed at solidifying Microsoft's place in cloud computing. The Release Candidate is being marketed alongside the Release Candidate of System Center 2012 as a way to embrace both virtualization and the cloud, both public and private.
"With nearly 300,000 downloads to date of the beta release [of Windows Server 2012], the excitement around this new Windows Server is unprecedented", Windows Server Lead Architect Jeffrey Snover says of the excitement surrounding the product.
Microsoft did not immediately specify when final versions of the product will ship, although it may be a good bet that the development products will release before Windows 8 debuts this fall.
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