Hands-on Labs – A great resource for developer learning

Recently, I blogged about the “How Do I” set of videos that we have for different technologies to provide task based information that will help our customers. 


Another way we have found that developers like to evaluate and learn is through guided tutorials that are less than 90 minutes in length.  We call  these tutorials Hands-On-Labs or Virtual Labs, and MSDN has a complete list of the available labs here.


No installation is required to run the labs, and with over 250 labs grouped by technology, it is easy to find, get started and learn.




BizTalk Server

Commerce Server

Connected Systems

Data Access and Storage

Internet Information Services (IIS)

JPlusN (J+N)

Microsoft Expression

.NET Framework 3.0



Smart Client

Soup to Nuts

SQL Server 2005

SQL Server 2005 Upgrade

TechNet Virtual Labs

Visual Basic

Visual C#

Visual C++

Visual J#

Visual SourceSafe

Visual Studio .NET 2003

Visual Studio 2005

Visual Studio Team System

Web Services

Windows Embedded CE 6.0

Windows Mobile

Windows Vista

Windows XP Embedded



Comments (18)

  1. Vijay says:

    Here’s what I love about this – "No installation is required" 🙂

  2. anjanesh says:

    This is excellent. Any labs on Visual Studio 2008 beta ?

    I havent yet registered – but how exactly do these work ? Flash based ?

  3. Kiran says:

    Hi Soma,

          Thanks for the post

  4. Loc says:

    Thanks for making it available. I can use some of these labs.

  5. S.Somasegar says:


    Your request for information on the hands-on labs was the one that prompted me to do this post.  Thanks.


  6. Andre says:

    Have you had a look at the links you’ve posted?

    "Visual C++ .NET 2003 is the most productive C++ tool for creating the highest-performance applications for Windows and the Web."

    Thanks for sharing that information with us, I’m uninstalling VS2005 now.

    Unfortunatelly this is exemplary for the current state of VC++: PATHETIC!

    VS2008 also doesn’t have a lot to offer for C++ and native code. Too late, too little.

    Eclipse + QT + GCC is probably the better tool stack than what Microsoft has to offer.

  7. S.Somasegar says:

    Hi Andre,

    You are right in that some of these labs are old but I thought it was important to provide the complete list for the community.  The team(s) is working on scrubbing this to clearly identify which labs are for which versions of VS, etc.


  8. I try to publish a short, weekly roundup of news that focuses on .NET and MS development related content

  9. Andre says:

    The labs for C++ are not only outdated, but there aren’t any except one.

    How come that there are already VB labs for the .NET 3.5 framework but not even a single lab for VC 2005? I really would like to understand the rationale for that. Does your Devision believe that C++ developers don’t need "holding hands" labs? Aren’t there enough resources on the C++ team because Popfly is more important to Microsoft nowadays? Is the team just sloppy?

    Also if I take "An Inside Look At The Next Generation Of Visual C++" there is not a lot new except a few incremental changes.

    For me VS2008 is a "won’t buy", because there is no business value. Support for Vista common dialogs doesn’t cut it. VS2008 should have really been a SP for VS2005 (at least for C++).

  10. Hi Andre.  My name is Bill Dunlap and I’m on the Visual C++ management team.  Hopefully I’ll be able to provide a bit on insight into what’s happening with the Visual C++ product.

    During the Orcas product cycle, we decided to revisit our product strategy and – after speaking with a number of customers – realized that there was a strong call for us to ratchet up our support for native development (and leave C# & VB as "first class" .NET tools).  While this couldn’t affect our plans for Orcas, it will fundamentally alter how we approach future products.  In fact, our plan is to deliver significant advancement in native C++ development for Orcas+1.

    To give you a better idea of this strategy, I invite you to watch a video that Steve Teixeira (Group Program Manager) and I made for Channel 9.  The link is http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=281987.

    On this site you’ll also find a number of good videos from our team on new features in Orcas.  Further, a number of "How Do I" videos are being developed and you should see those hit MSDN over the next several weeks.

    I also invite you to read the Visual C++ team blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/vcblog.  This contains a lot of good feedback about what we’re working on and areas we’re investigating for future releases.

    – Bill

  11. Just found some useful information: – Extensions to EntLib 3.1 done as as community effort: http://blogs.msdn.com/tomholl/archive/2007/07/17/first-release-of-entlib-contrib.aspx

  12. Just found some useful information: – Extensions to EntLib 3.1 done as as community effort: http://blogs

  13. Kris says:

    Hands on Labs are a great way to learn. Thanks for sharing this list. I use them all the time. I just have couple of suggestions:

    * It would be nice if you could provide HOL for upcoming technologies – Alpha’s/Betas. MS builds a lot of momemtum by creating webcasts, events for a lot of new technologies but falls short by providing these technologies as HOL or just as VMs which the developers can avail to learn something like new like Silverlight, Office Communications Server. Sometimes the hardware and time constraints preclude us to install this at work or home and check out these upcoming technologies. I know providing these HOL can take a lot of effort, but just providing a hosted VM experience with these new products could be great for the community.

    * Another nice to have feature is to have a shared drive specific to each user when he logs in. This allows users to have a workspace that they can use across different sessions. If I want to continue to work at a later time, I don’t want to start from scratch.

    I just want to say Kudos to Microsoft for offering these technologies as Virtual Labs. There is no company that does this  as well as Microsoft. Shame on companies like IBM, Oracle, BEA, Sun, HP for not providing anything close to this.

    I know VC++ has taken a back seat. Would love to see some nice libraries from MS to enable native development on Vista. I bet MS creates a lot of native libraries for their products as 90% of them are written in VC++. Why not share it with the developers in their rough form and get the momentum back in VC++ development on Windows.

    Just my 2c…


  14. Bill Dunlap says:

    Hello Andre and Kris.  My name is Bill Dunlap and I’m on the Viusal C++ management team.  You both raise some good points and I’d like a chance to tell you a bit about where Visual C++ is heading.

    About a year ago the Visual C++ team decided to revisit our product strategy.  After talking with a large number of customers we found that that most people are using our product for native code development.  As a result, we are going to focus on native code innovation moving forward.  While this new strategy isn’t fully reflected in Orcas, you will see significant updates to our native features in subsequent releases.  To the point Kris makes, we’re hoping to demonstrate some cool updates to our native libraries soon!

    To learn more about this strategy I invite you to watch a video that I made with Steve Teixeira (our Group Product Manager).  You can find this video at http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=281987.  The Channel9 site, includes several more videos on Orcas features that you might find interesting.  On a related note, a number of "How Do I" videos on C++ topics will soon be posted on MSDN.

    – Bill (Visual C++ development team)

  15. Chris says:

    Why isn’t there HOL for Enterprise Library 3.1 ?

  16. Rob says:

    Why isn’t there HOL for Enterprise Library 3.1? The ones for 1.0 and 2.0 were crucial…

  17. Shubh says:

    Hi Soma,

    The fantastic link indeed. But does anyone need to pay for registration and getting the 90 minutes tutorial (virtual lab)?

    Most of the labs are far older. I’m interested in Enterprise Library 3.1 and Design Patterns using C# 2005. Are those labs also available?

  18. Hello Shubh – thank you for your interest in Enterprise Library.

    We are just this week starting to release the hands on labs for Enterprise Library 4.1 (which we released in October) – we should have the Validation Block hands-on lab today – if we can get past the connectivity issues due to the snow in Redmond 🙂

    The next one is the labs for the Interception block. We will have updated all of the hands-on labs for Enterprise Library 4.1 before the end of January. And you will be able to access them from http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd203099.aspx

    Enterprise Library 3.1 was released in May 2007 and did not have associated hands-on labs.

    Please let me know if I can be of any other assistance. My email is johnd@microsoft.com if you want to reach me.

    btw, the hands on labs are free.

    thank you


    product unit manager, p&p

Skip to main content