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It's been a good week for Microsoft developers. The software company announced over the course of the last few days that it had released betas for .Net Framework 3.5, Visual Studio 2008, and the Ajax Control Toolkit; a release candidate for Silverlight 1.0; and a pre-alpha of the IronRuby dynamic programming language.
Probably the biggest milestone of the bunch is the second beta for Visual Studio 2008, Microsoft's flagship development software, the final version of which is slated to be released by the end of the year. The new beta includes all the features that will be found in the final version, including an add-in that allows developers to create rich Internet applications with Silverlight, Firefox support for XBAP (XML Browser Applications, which are Web apps designed in Windows Presentation Foundation), and the ability to target multiple versions of the .Net Framework.
Released along with the new Visual Studio beta was version 3.5 of the .Net Framework, which doesn't break applications designed in 3.0, unlike previous versions. "As a company, Microsoft continues to invest in our .Net Framework," said Thom Robbins, Microsoft's director of the .Net platform, in an interview. "It's our core technology."
Included in both Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2 and .Net Framework 3.5 Beta 2 is a Go Live license, which means developers using those products can put them onto production machines and start using them for live applications. That indicates Microsoft has thoroughly tested both and is ramping up customer support.
The release candidate of Silverlight 1.0, Microsoft's rich Internet application platform, means the company is readying the final version, which should be out sometime soon as a platform mainly designed for media scenarios. The follow-up release, Silverlight 1.1, will add support for .Net code, a dynamic language runtime that will let developers code for Silverlight in popular languages such as Ruby and Python, and a layout tool.
Finally, Microsoft also this week announced it had released early code for IronRuby, the company's Ruby-on-.Net scripting language, and a new beta for the Ajax Control Toolkit, which helps developers create Ajax Web apps.