Microsoft celebrates 20 years of Visual Studio

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Microsoft announced today it is celebrating 20 years of Visual Studio with the introduction of Visual Studio 2017, the latest iteration of its developer tool suite, on March 7.

A lot has changed in those 20 years, as illustrated by a picture Microsoft posted of the contents of Visual Studio 97 (below), the first iteration of the IDE. Back then it was pretty much just a bunch of languages in one box with no real integration. 

visual studio 97 Microsoft

And most of the languages supported back then are gone—such as Visual J++, a Java compiler that caused all kinds of legal problems with Sun Microsystems, and Visual C++, which has been ditched in favor of C#. Also, Visual FoxPro is pretty much dead, and the support apps, including SourceSafe and InterDev, have been replaced with newer apps or functions. 

Things changed in 2002 with the launch of Visual Studio .NET. C#—designed to be an easier-to-use object-oriented language than C++—was first introduced, and a radically changed Visual Basic.NET also made its debut. Apps were compiled through the .NET Framework instead of to machine code. 

Microsoft would dump the “.NET” suffix from the name with the release of Visual Studio 2005, but the intention remained. Microsoft settled on C# as the main programming language, with Visual Basic designated the beginner language. 

Over time, Microsoft would add more internet-oriented language support through add-ons, such as Python, Ruby, node.js and M. It also added a new language, F#, which doesn’t have a large following, but what it does have for users are very dedicated.

Visual Studio 2017 launch event

Microsoft will hold a two-day event beginning on March 7 to launch Visual Studio 2017, which will be livestreamed. March 8 will include “a full day of live training with multiple topics to choose from.”

The launch event will feature top members of the Visual Studio team showing off the latest developments from Visual Studio, .NET, Xamarin, Azure and more. Developers can engage in demo sessions focusing on key improvements within the product.

Microsoft is also asking for developers to share their stories of their using Visual Studio by recording a video on their smartphone and including details such as how long they have been using Visual Studio, what is the coolest software they’ve built, what do they like about Visual Studio and, showing Microsoft hasn’t lost its sense of corny behavior, birthday wishes for Visual Studio. At least they don’t call it “bae.”

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