by January 30, 2013 0 comments

If you want to develop apps which are based on Windows 8’s modern UI /Windows Phone 8 apps, VS 2012 is an absolute must-have. The new UI has attracted severe criticism from many developers, though, it gives you some really compeling reasons to upgrade to. Plus, the new features including better support for agile development and new functionality for Windows and SharePoint development make it worth trying out.

Why should I upgrade to VS 2012?

Here are the top three reasons:

(1) Targeting .NET framework 4.5: This is better supported with VS 2012. In VS 2008, for instance, you can’t target .NET FX 4.5 out-of-the-box. Even with VS 2010, you need to use workarounds to target .NET FX 4.5.

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(2) Windows 8: If you want to develop apps which are based on Windows 8’s modern UI /Windows Phone 8 apps, VS 2012 is an absolute must-have. It may be noted that Windows Phone 8’s SDK requires 64-bit Windows 8.

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(3) Page inspector for web developers: This lets the developer know which line of code is being run. Hovering the cursor over different regions of the designer highlights the corresponding code that will be executed.

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Key features

Visual Studio 2012 includes better support for agile development. The recently released update 1 builds upon these advancements to enhance usability in Team Foundation Server’s web interface and a better source viewing and diffing experience. The update also includes functionality for Team Foundation Server, such as Kanban support with a Kanban board and a cumulative flow diagram. In the IDE, Code Maps enable you to create and view dynamic visualizations of relevant code to understand and navigate its relationships faster.

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The new UI has attracted severe criticism from many developers. In an attempt at what Microsoft calls is an improvement to make sure the developer’s focus stays on productive tasks, the look and feel of the IDE has been changed drastically to the extent that leave aside learning to code, understanding the design and layout of different elements of the IDE itself takes some time to get used to. The UI draws heavily from the consistent modern UI being seen across most of Microsoft’s popular products and services.

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New capabilities

Update 1 adds new functionality for Windows and SharePoint development, agile teams, continuous quality, etc. New capabilities are targeted to support development on new platforms with modern lifecycle tools. Also called as Visual Studio 2012.1, the update provides enhancements and fixes to address issues reported through Connect and Windows Error Reporting. Most of the new functionality appears in Ultimate and Premium, but there are some features for Professional and Express products, too. The new functionality in update 1 primarily spans four key areas: Windows development, SharePoint development, agile teams(mentioned above), and continuous quality.

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(1) Windows development

As obvious as it can be, Visual Studio 2012 features new templates, designers, and testing & debugging tools to support Windows 8, including support for Windows Store apps with the Windows 8 Simulator. Update 1 adds support for mixed-mode (managed/native) debugging of Windows Store apps, and support for native ARM dump debugging. This update also includes code analysis support for Windows Phone 8 apps. Interestingly, update 1 also enables you to target Windows XP with native C++ applications in Visual Studio 2012.

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With Update 1, you can now use unit tests and coded UI tests for simulating user interaction, including the Microsoft Fakes Framework to stub out SharePoint dependencies. Load testing support enables stress testing of SharePoint applications under simulated load and network conditions. In addition, you can now capture SharePoint logging information using IntelliTrace to provide a rich analysis experience for SharePoint applications.

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Code coverage for automated tests is now available for manual testing, which enables you to analyze which areas of a code base are used during manual testing. Update 1 also supports cross-browser testing, with the ability to record web tests in Internet Explorer and then later replay them with most modern browsers. Using Test Explorer, you can group and run tests based on their traits (Test Category, Test Property, Priority, and Owner). You can also pause and resume manual test sessions in Microsoft Test Manager, and automatically create an image log of all actions performed during an exploratory testing session.

Partner speak

“Infosys’ deep domain and technology expertise, combined with the power of Visual Studio 2012 helps ensure development teams have the collaborative environment they need to quickly build scalable, high-quality applications for modern devices and platforms,” said Naresh Choudhary, Head, Tools, Infosys. “Working in close concert with Visual Studio 2012, enables developers to easily use their existing skills, and efficiently leverage emerging development trends to build innovative applications that drive valuable usage scenarios for today’s increasingly mobile workforce.”

“HCL extends the value of Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 into the wave of new applications that span today’s modern platforms,” said S Sivaguru, Head, Tools Group, HCL, “In our early adoption, we have seen benefits of significantly reducing the time for upgrades / deployment of SharePoint sites by exploiting some of the new features of Visual Studio 2012. This used to require a lot of manual efforts to be put in earlier .”


As of the time of writing, unless you want to go for volume licensing, you will most probably need to purchase Visual Studio 2012 along with a corresponding MSDN subscription. You can find out your local reseller details from Microsoft Pinpoint ( ). About a dozen resellers were found at the time of writing spanning across the country. MSDN subscriptions may also be available from retail stores in India ( ). Volume licensing customers will need to call customer care to register their licenses.

You can also purchase directly from Microsoft in India by calling them during working hours on weekdays. Startups, faculty, and students are eligible to get certain free resources by enrolling in the corresponding programs. BizSpark members receive access to Not-For-Resale software versions equivalent to those included in the Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN subscription. Subscribers also get 4 technical support incidents per company, provisioned to the administrator.

But there is lots of fine print to be considered.Team Foundation Service is not included in MPN, BizSpark, DreamSpark or WebsiteSpark subscriptions. MSDN subscriptions provided by the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) do not include technical support incidents, priority support in MSDN Forums, or MSDN Online Chat as similar services are provided through MPN. Not for Resale (NFR) subscriptions do not include technical support incidents, the printed MSDN Magazine, or production use of Microsoft Office products. Technical support incidents are not redeemable for Windows Store and Windows Phone Marketplace.

You can purchase from the official Microsoft Store in India online at . At the time of writing, these were the listed prices:

Product Visual Studio Professional 2012 Visual Studio Test Professional 2012 with MSDN Visual Studio Professional 2012 with MSDN Visual Studio Ultimate 2012 with MSDN Visual Studio Premium 2012 with MSDN
Price starting from (in Rupees) 23706 42709 37958 201853 122043

This is of course in addition to the freely available Express editions of Visual Studio 2012, which are available in the following variants: Web, Windows 8, Windows Desktop, Windows Phone and Team Foundation Server. They can be downloaded easily using both thin installers as well as standalone ISOs.


Visual Studio 2012 does have certain compelling reasons to buy, but developers may not like the new UI. Uptake of VS 2012 also depends on how many developers sign up at the Windows Store as well as the Windows Phone store, in addition to how rapidly (or not) does Windows 8 itself find inroads into our everyday systems.


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