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Microsoft embraces ALM with upcoming Visual Studio 2005 release

Microsoft is planting its flag firmly in the application life-cycle management (ALM) space with the latest addition to its Visual Studio product line, Visual Studio 2005 Team System. Currently in its first beta release, VS Team System will include new capabilities for team coordination and collaborative development, says Rick LaPlante, general manager of the Visual Studio 2005 Team System at Microsoft.

"We used to think of development as developers," LaPlante says. "Thinking about where we have to get to has made us think more broadly."

Speaking last week at BorCon, Borland Software's annual user conference in San Jose, Calif., LaPlante gave attendees a preview of VS Team Studio. He highlighted several features, including source-code control, item tracking and project management. The product will come with a central, networked code database designed to generate an audit trail for tracking who is working on what code, as well as the status of that code. It will also make defect/bug reports and test results available to all members of the team for greater project visibility, he says.

Above all, LaPlante promised BorCon attendees, VS Team System will be simple to use. "If you have to go and hire a consulting firm to figure out what you installed, we have failed," he says. "If, in order to collaborate, you have to do 20 more steps, then you are using Rational's tools."

The VS Team System release represents Microsoft's first serious move beyond the confines of the traditional IDE into the broader landscape of ALM. The tool will compete with ALM offerings from Borland and IBM Rational. These vendors -- especially Borland -- have been integrating their tools and technologies with acquired products to create development environments equipped to handle all aspects of application development, from the planning and requirements-gathering stages, through development, testing and deployment.

Microsoft plans to integrate VS Team System with Borland's CaliberRM requirements management product, LaPlante notes.

LaPlante's presentation echoed the overall theme of the Borland show, exemplified in the toolmaker's new Software Delivery Optimization strategy, which leverages ALM and developer products to align software development with business processes. The idea, says LaPlante, is to make development more of a "disciplined business process, like enterprise resource planning." If companies can impose highly structured processes on their supply-chain automation, he adds, they can do the same thing with their software development.

Meanwhile, at Microsoft's user conference, VSLive!, held in storm-torn Orlando, Fla., the Redmond software maker previewed Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition, slated to ship next year. Company execs touted the new version as the best tool for moving small to mid-sized software organizations from Visual Basic to.NET architecture.

Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 Team System and its 2005 Standard Edition are slated for a general release by the middle of 2005.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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