Microsoft’s Developer Division has a lot on its plate: Windows 7, Cloud Computing, SharePoint 2010, Office 2010, and the yearning to somehow get Visual Studio Team System to make inroads on IBM’s Rational application lifecycle management tools. Visual Studio 2010 and the accompanying .NET Framework (.NET FX 4) is Microsoft’s answer and this week they announced Beta 2 and a scheduled general availability of March 22, 2010.
You will note, of course, that VS2010 lags Windows 7 and that is a problem for developers who really want to be at the cutting edge., particularly with .NET. While you certainly can build applications with Windows 7 features with Visual Studio 2008 and the .NET 3.5 SP1 that comes with Windows 7, it is not the kind of experience Microsoft would prefer for developers. More to the point for development organizations: you won’t get fired for not exploiting the new Windows 7 features in your mission critical apps so inevitably such apps will be slow to arrive and even slower because of the schedule mismatch.
As for the rest of the agenda:
Beta 2 also includes integrated tooling for SharePoint, including project templates and debugging support, and runtime and tooling support for developing great Windows 7 applications.
Since Beta 1, new Windows Azure Tools templates make it easy to get started developing Windows Azure applications, and enhanced support for Silverlight 3 databindings let you focus on writing your code.
Team Foundation Server is now included in all versions of Visual Studio 2010 with MSDN. For small teams that need only core development features such as source control, bug tracking, and build automation, TFS Basic offers a simple, streamlined install and runs on server or client machines. Test Elements users will notice a more intuitive and responsive user interface.
In the latter regard, Microsoft has completely reorganized the packaging of Visual Studio and the Microsoft Developers Network to, among other things, merge Team System into the base packages.
Today Microsoft unveiled an invited beta program for Office 2010 (codenamed Office 14):
Today, at its Worldwide Partner Conference 2009, Microsoft Corp. announced that Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Microsoft Visio 2010 and Microsoft Project 2010 have reached the technical preview engineering milestone. Starting today, tens of thousands of people will be invited to test Office and Visio as part of the Technical Preview program.
It’s a private beta limited to invitees, the beta code will apparently not be available until August, and the final products won’t be available until the first half of 2010. You can find out about the usual incremental Office improvements at the Office 2010 Web site, but the biggest buzz is about the Web versions tentatively named Office Web applications (although Microsoft is looking for a new name):
Office Web applications — the lightweight Web browser versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote — that provide access to documents from virtually anywhere and preserve the look and feel of a document regardless of device.
The company also announced that Office Web applications will be available in three ways: through Windows Live, where more than 400 million consumers will have access to Office Web applications at no cost; on-premises for all Office volume licensing customers including more than 90 million Office annuity customers; and via Microsoft Online Services, where customers will be able to purchase a subscription as part of a hosted offering.
So Microsoft has bitten the bullet and will go free on the Web version of their Office cash cow and the lines are drawn with Google Apps and the other free online office software competitors. Of course, Microsoft really didn’t have much choice if they wanted anyone to pay attention. Stay tuned for a raft of side-by-side comparisons and feature wrangling among the players.
Last week (as had been rumored earlier in the month) Microsoft started a limited beta of its upcoming free antivirus product which had been codenamed Morro, but was formally christened as Microsoft Security Essentials. The beta was limited to 75,000 downloaders and has currently reached the limit so would-be tire kickers will have to wait for general availability which is expected later in the year.
Frankly, it takes a brave person (or one with a dedicated test machine) to test something as vital and potentially intrusive as PC antivirus software, but so far there have been no complaints that I have seen and in fact, preliminary results from testing company AV-Test GmbH indicate that Microsoft Security Essentials is looking very good:
AV-Test GmbH tested Microsoft Security Essentials, the free software Microsoft launched yesterday in beta, on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, putting it up against nearly 3,200 common viruses, bot Trojans and worms, said Andreas Marx, one of the firm’s two managers. The malware was culled from the most recent WildList, a list of threats actually actively attacking computers.
"All files were properly detected and treated by the product," said Marx in an e-mail. "That’s good, as several other [antivirus] scanners are still not able to detect and kill all of these critters yet."
AV-Test also examined the program’s anti-rootkit skills and its ability to scrub a system of malware it finds with a limited number of samples and "found no reasons to complain," Marx said. "[Security Essentials] is able to remove found malware very well, but further tests against larger sets of samples are required before we can come to a final conclusion."
Microsoft Security Essentials also had no false positives in the preliminary testing.
In case you were wondering, the testing also confirmed that Microsoft Security Essentials is not a "cloud" virus scanner as had been suggested in some early speculations – it is a conventional scanner working off databases downloaded to each PC. Without any concrete evidence, my assumption is that Microsoft Security Essentials is just a spiffed up version of the antivirus portion of Windows Live OneCare, Microsoft’s failed commercial security package which will no longer be sold after June 30.
Last November when Microsoft announced they were pulling the plug on Windows Live OneCare (actual last sale date June 30, 2009), they promised a new free antivirus offering for Windows codenamed "Morro" in the 2nd half of 2009. Today, Reuters is reporting that a Morro beta is coming soon:
A Microsoft spokesman said on Wednesday that the world’s biggest software maker is testing an early version of the product with its own employees. Microsoft would "soon" make a trial version, or product beta, available via its website, he added, but declined to provide a specific date.
Microsoft has said that Morro will offer basic features for fighting a wide range of viruses, which would likely make it comparable to low-end consumer products from Symantec and McAfee that cost about $40 per year.
Symantec shares fell 0.5 percent on Nasdaq and McAfee fell 1.3 percent on the New York Stock Exchange, while Microsoft was up 2.1 percent.
Microsoft is billing Morro as a "public service," but I am hard-pressed to believe that will fly. Antitrust regulators – start your engines!