Build, Day 2: Keynote Focuses on Visual Studio 11, MVC Changes, Cloud, More

On Wednesday, Scott Guthrie and Jason Zander, corporate vice presidents of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business and the Visual Studio Team, respectively, highlighted some significant developer focused improvements in the Visual Studio 11 Developer Preview. Unlike yesterday's keynote, which focused tightly on Metro-style Windows 8 app development, today's Build keynote demos seemed to be targeted at rank-and-file .NET developers.

Wearing his trademark red polo, Guthrie came on stage to give a feature-packed presentation of the improvements to ASP.NET MVC in Visual Studio 11. Guthrie showed off the new asynchronous capabilities in MVC, as well as showing how WebSocket support can provide real-time links via Windows Azure among diverse client devices.

Stephen Toub, principal architect on the Parallel Computing Platform team at Microsoft, after the keynote said that Visual Studio 11 significantly extends the asynchronous capabilities first delivered in the Async CTP. He noted that Async enables vital scalability improvements in ASP.NET MVC.

The next version of MVC also gains mobile-focused features, including improved default styles for mobile targets and support for jQuery Mobile. The Visual Studio 11 Phone Emulator also adds support for iOS, enabling MVC developers to target their apps to the iPhone.

Jason Zander, meanwhile, came out to give two distinct demoes. In the first, Zander used the Visual Studio 11 Developer Preview to Build a DirectX-enabled, 3D game application in C++. Zander showed off the new image editor in Visual Studio, which now supports alpha blending, drawing applause from the audience. He also walked through the intriguing, pixel-level debugging tools in Visual Studio, showing how a developer can drill down into a visual flaw in a three-dimensional scene and diagnose and fix the problem.

Blogger Rafael Rivera, contributing to the Build group live blog at ZDNet, described the capability as "an IntelliTrace-kind of diagnostic based on pixels."

Zander also showed off Team Foundation Service, the Windows Azure-based version of Microsoft's team development environment, hosted in the Cloud. Attendees were given a one-year subscription to TFS for Windows Azure during the conference.

Downloads of developer preview versions of Visual Studio 11 and Team Foundation Server 11 are available for download today for MSDN Subscribers. General availability is set for 10 a.m. PT Friday for both Visual Studio 11 and Team Foundation Server 11.

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer made a surprise appearance to cap the keynote, offering a high-level perspective on Microsoft's Windows-centric strategy going forward. Ballmer stressed, several times, that many of the efforts highlighted at Build remain in the very early stages, and that developers can expect plenty of advancements in the months and years to come.

Ballmer made one thing emphatically clear: Microsoft's strategy is centered around Windows -- Windows 8, Windows 8 Server, Windows Azure and Windows Phone. As Ballmer concluded in his penultimate line of his speech: "It's the day and age of the developer. It's the day and age of the Windows developer," Ballmer said, moments before leaving the stage with a reserved take on his trademark line: "Developers, developers, developers."

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.