Microsoft released a new version of its Visual Studio 2005 Software Development Kit (SDK) this week, the last planned SDK update for Visual Studio 2005 as the development team shifts its focus to the next version of Visual Studio, code-named Orcas.
The new release, version 4, features a browser to connect users with online content, one of several additions that Microsoft hopes will make the SDK more attractive to new users. It recently dropped a registration requirement and posted the SDK as an easy-to-access, free download, a move that company executives said has expanded the user base.
"One of the things we noticed with the version 3 release was that we had an explosion of new users," said Rob Brigham, manager of the Visual Studio Tool Ecosystem group. "In the past, the most common users were commercial ISVs. With version 3, we got a lot of noncommercial users: enterprise developers creating custom tools for internal use, academic institutions, community developers building tooling for hobby development."
A full rundown of version 4 updates is posted on the Ecosystem group's blog.
While the release schedule for Orcas hasn't yet been announced, the SDK team is gearing up for the overhaul.
"We'll make sure we ship [previews] and betas," said Joe Marini, director of Microsoft's Visual Studio Industry Partner team. "Our goal is to have our partners ready to ship with us."
Microsoft is also stepping up its efforts to woo programming novices into the Visual Studio ecosystem. A new Beginning Developer Learning Center, also released this week, features a collection of tutorials and videos targeted at beginners.