Microsoft Unveils Visual Studio Team System

At the Tech Ed conference in San Diego, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced Visual Studio Team System. Visual Studio Team System expands the Visual Studio line of products into the lifecycle tools market and is part of the company's new Microsoft Solutions System.

Visual Studio Team System, formerly know as "Burton," helps IT decision makers and project heads work better with developers to build "enterprise grade" applications. In order to facilitate better coordination between groups, Burton enables real time data gathering; resulting in Microsoft's claim that organizations will require fewer status meetings and roles.

Since VS Team System focuses on the entire product lifecycle, Microsoft has incorporated features that satisfy a range of needs such as requirements management, design, modeling, and development to load testing.

More specifically, the suite includes the "Whitehorse" set of modeling tools; a logical operations manager; a source code control system with a drag and drop interface; static analysis with buffer overrun protection; as well as build, unit and load testing.

Visual Studio Team System also integrates with Microsoft Project and Excel.

Offering a glimpse into the market research that motivated Microsoft to develop Burton, Rick LaPlante, general manager of Visual Studio 2005 Team told BetaNews, "Customers want tools that work better together. Standalone products create artificial roles and silos."

At Present, software developed in house and IBM's Rational dominate the lifecycle tools market. To increase its footprint, Microsoft has partnered with ISVs including Compuware and Borland.

According to the product's whitepaper, Visual Studio 2005 is interoperable with non-Microsoft tools. "Tools can plug in to several key user interfaces to participate as partners that are equal to the native or other third-party tools," reads the whitepaper.

No details on pricing have been released, although some pundits feel that an increase may be in store.

"I'm not convinced that Microsoft's team development approach is what customers are looking for, particularly considering that the Visual Studio Team version could cost customers more than the existing product," said Joe Wilcox, senior analyst with Jupiter Research.

"Typically, when Microsoft adds a server component, customers are asked to pay additional fees, for client-access licenses, to connect the desktop software to the server product. Project is a good example of a Microsoft take a collaborative product and added a server component that increased up-front software acquisition costs for many customers," explained Wilcox.

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