A Word About Versions

In doing the analysis for this article, I used Visual Studio 2005 Professional without Visual Studio Team System, which will ship at a later date (I have an MSDN Professional subscription). As is usually the case, Microsoft is making Visual Studio available in several versions at several price points. The table at http://lab.msdn.microsoft.com/vs2005/productinfo/productline/default.aspx does more justice than I can to this complex topic.

Microsoft is offering Visual Studio in three editions: Professional, Standard, and Express. The Express Edition is a group of identical products with support for only a single language (VB, VC#, VC++, or VJ#), including a separate product for Web development.

The differences between the Standard and Professional editions seem relatively minor for most purposes, but can be important under some circumstances. The Professional Edition offers what Standard does, plus remote debugging, Crystal Reports, SQL Server integration, and SQL Server Developer Edition.

Visual Studio Team System includes the Team System client in addition to everything in the Professional edition. Of course, the Team Foundation Server is sold separately.

Microsoft continues to push MSDN subscriptions as the best way of obtaining your VS version of choice. You'll pay an annual fee for the subscription, but it's the best way to get both updates and betas. It’s a good value for most software developers, and an even better deal for Microsoft, which gets reliable and regular revenue.