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Looking Ahead to Orcas and Beyond
Expect to see improvements in C#, Visual Basic, data handling, and more.
by Peter Varhol

Microsoft Professional Developers Conference, September 2005

There are many directions that Microsoft could conceivably take with future versions of Visual Studio. Support for new operating system features is almost a given. And based on some presentations being given at the 2005 PDC this week, it appears that the company has chosen working with data as the next mountain to climb.

Orcas—the code name for the next version of Visual Studio—will have pretty quick cycle as far as enterprise development tool sets go. In order to take advantage of some of the new features available in Windows Vista, Orcas has to come out at around the same time, now projected for the second half of next year. This means that there is perhaps as little as a 12-month turnaround time for Orcas (although there is no doubt that it is already under development), so don't expect too much.


Windows Vista (or Longhorn, for those of us who identify more readily with its sobriquet), will introduce a declarative programming model called XAML (for XML Markup language) that will complement existing programming languages and Windows Forms by enabling developers to use the Avalon presentation layer to build the sophisticated mix of Web-like rich-client user interfaces available with the new operating system. Avalon user interfaces written with XAML employ some stunning visual effects, including three-dimensional objects, subtle shading, and transparent and overlapping objects.

Orcas will also deliver more support for Indigo, Microsoft's new programming model for building Web services. Indigo introduces a unified model for developing connected applications on the Windows platform that makes it easier to build service components employing remote procedure calls, messaging, and remote object invocation. While there is little new from the standpoint of features in Indigo, Orcas will provide a far easier way to implement some capabilities, such as security and reliable transactions. Demonstrations of Indigo technology indicate that using Orcas with Indigo can reduce the required code for complex tasks from tens of thousands of lines to just a few.

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