Microsoft Taps Zander To Head Visual Studio Group

Microsoft has re-organized its developer division, tapping .NET Framework head Jason Zander to oversee the team that puts together Visual Studio, the company's flagship development environment.

The move took place Friday afternoon. Zander, who gave the keynote address this morning at VSLive New York, said his duties overseeing the .NET Framework will be shared by Scott Guthrie, general manager for the tools division and others on the .NET development team. Zander takes over for Craig Symonds, who has been assinged to a new incubation project.

"We have asked some of those folks to step up and continue driving it," Zander told RDN after giving his VSLive keynote. Both Guthrie and Zander will report to Soma Segar, corporate VP for the developer division. Also reporting to Segar is Andrew Kass, who will oversee Visual Studio Team System.

Zander previously reported to Guthrie, and while the two are now peers, they will be working closely together. "The developer division on the framework and tool side always worked closely and that will not change," Zander said. "It's an exciting opportunity .I have worked with a bunch of folks on the VisualStudio team for years so I know everyone over there. There's a whole bunch of stuff we can do."

Key of course is preparing for the release of Visual Studio 2008, code-named Orcas. With positive reviews of Beta 2, Zander believes the new release is nearing completion. "We are getting toward the end [of the beta test cycle]," he said. "We don't have any firm announce dates other than the launch date in February. But honestly, we're working on wrapping up all the content well before the launch. Stay tuned -- probably some time later this year, you will start seeing the final release candidate bits coming out from people."

Zander said his next priority will be to assess what's next for Visual Studio. Just like the compact.NET common language runtime (CLR) for Silverlight, Zander said Microsoft intends to do the same with Visual Studio. "I'd like to see those same kind of attributes showing up in the full .NET Framework as well as Visual Studio, so it gets easier and easier to use the tools. It needs to be easier and more friction-free across the board."

Also on his agenda is improving the productivity features of Visual Studio within the tool. "There's a bunch of easily defined things in Expression, there's some techniques we can pull into Visual Studio to make it easier to find features and functionality," he said. There's a bunch of themes like that; I will be sitting with the team figuring out what should be in and out."

Meanwhile, he is also confident that there will be quick uptake for Visual Studio 2008, particularly as more organizations look to deploy the .NET Framework 3.0. "I think people will be interested. It solves some concrete problems people were going to solve, such as JavaScript integration," he said. "If you're a JavaScript developer writing hundreds of thousands of lines of code, it's a painful proposition today."

But one thing that could be a painful proposition is cost -- not just of the software, but also training, and getting teams onto the same release. "In our case, we have to make sure our new projects come over in the new system and that developers know processes like picking the right framework," said Thomas Coleman, chief technology officer of Filmtrack, a supplier of software for distributors of films.

Nonetheless, it should be a smoother transition than the prior upgrade, Coleman said. "VS 2008 seems like an evolutionary change; it's not a huge paradigm shift for developers."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.