Developer

Microsoft courts mainstream developers

The software maker expands its Visual Studio line of developer tools.

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By David Becker CNET News.com

Microsoft plans to expand its pitch to developers with a new middle-of-the-road Visual Studio package.

The software giant is set to announce plans Monday for Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition, a package that would be positioned between previously announced high-end and hobbyist versions of Visual Studio, Microsoft's family of products for creating Windows applications.

"One of the key goals for the product line was to make sure we didn't approach developers with a one-tool-fits-all attitude," said John Montgomery, director of Microsoft's developer division. "It turns out there are lots of different kinds of developers, with different needs."

Visual Studio 2005 packages already in the works include Express, a low-priced version aimed at amateur developers, and Team System, a package that includes project management tools for developers who mainly work on group projects.

Standard Edition will focus on developers who work on their own, Montgomery said, particularly those who have held back on migrating from Visual Basic to the Web-centric .Net architecture. The package includes migration tools to ease developers into the .Net process.

"We're going after the developers who want to upgraded but have held off for one reason or another," he said.

A beta version of Standard Edition is slated for this winter, with a final product set to appear with the rest of the Visual Studio 2005 line in mid-2005.

Other Visual Studio announcements Monday include a new beta release of Visual Studio 2005, for the first time including Team Edition enhancements. Montgomery said Microsoft is committed to offering frequent updates of beta products as Visual Studio comes together. "For people tracking what we do very closely, it's very useful to be able to download these interim builds of the software," he said.

Microsoft also announced a new version of its current developer product. The new Visual Studio .Net 2003 Special Edition includes the main Visual Studio .Net 2003 package, plus Windows Server 2003 Developer Edition and SQL Serve 2000 Developer Edition. The package sells for $749 for the full version or $549 for those upgrading from a previous product.

"It's aimed at customers who want to deploy production quality applications today...and have been waiting for the Visual Studio toolset to mature," Montgomery said. "We've made it a very complete development environment, especially for Web applications."

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