Microsoft has made the Release Candidate of Visual Studio 2010 available for download to MSDN subscribers. From tomorrow (10th February) the same release will be available to everyone. There is a go-live license so you can use this in production if you wish, though if the full release comes in April as planned, it hardly seems worth it in most scenarios.
What’s new since the beta? Jason Zander says mainly performance. Note that the Chief Architect of Visual Studio is Rico Mariani, formerly Microsoft’s .NET performance guru, which is encouraging in this respect.
The blow-by-blow account of issues with the RC is here.
Whatever your views on the direction and future of Microsoft’s platform, there’s no doubting the huge scope of this release, though in my view the company has not communicated this particularly well, saying too much about things like SharePoint development, top of its list of walkthroughs but still an ugly business, and not enough about features such as IntelliTrace debugging, or the new ability to float windows out of the IDE and onto a second display, which will have a more immediate impact on developers. Note that the Visual Studio IDE has been re-built using WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation), and that it comes with a the first completely new version of the .NET Framework since 2005.
Silverlight 4.0 is another area of interest, though I understand that it will not be complete in time for this release. Visual Studio 2010 will have Silverlight 3.0 out of the box, with the ability to install the 4.0 preview release and eventually the final release as an add-on. I’ve also heard that Silverlight 4.0 is not yet supported at all in the RC, so be cautious if this is your area of work – you may need to stick with the last beta for the moment.
New is not always better, of course. I’m interested in hearing from developers working with Visual Studio 2010 – whether performance and stability issues have been overcome, and what you think of it overall.