Microsoft's Visual Studio 2008 integrated development environment is now widely available.
The tool set was released to Microsoft Developer Network subscribers in November, but is now available to volume licensing and retail customers.
It includes a new version of the .NET framework, version 3.5, which is aimed at taking advantage of two new subsystems Microsoft included in Windows Vista: Windows Communication Foundation and Windows Presentation Foundation .
WCF enables the creation of service oriented applications, while WPF is for creating more dynamic user interfaces. Microsoft also built Visual Studio 2008 with the idea of making it easier for developers to create cross-platform applications.
Visual Studio comes in various editions, from a free version called Visual Studio Express to a version for entire developer teams called Visual Studio Team System. More information is on the MSDN website.
Visual Studio is one of the three products that Microsoft will highlight in a launch event in Los Angeles at the end of next month. The other two are Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008, but they will not both be available at that time.
The new version of Microsoft's server operating system is expected to be available on the day of the launch, but last week Microsoft pushed back the release of SQL Server 2008 until the third calendar quarter of the year. It had said previously that the software would be available by midyear.