Visual Studio 2015 Preview, Visual Studio Community 2013, Visual Studio 2013 Update 4, and More


Visual Studio 2015, Visual Studio 2013 Update 5, and .NET 4.6 were released on 7/20/2015. Check out this post announcing VS 2015 and VS 2013 Update 5 and this one announcing .NET framework 4.6.

[UPDATE: 11/13] We have updated this post with links to detail blog posts on updated tooling for Apache Cordova and Blend for Visual Studio 2015. Look for the [UPDATE] tag to find these links.

Original post:

This is a big day with a lot of releases going out and so this post is longer than normal. I’ll briefly touch on some of today’s releases and point you to other locations with more details. We’ll post more in the coming days and come back to this blog entry to update them as we flesh out the entries.

If you just want to get right to it:

One of the other large announcements today is that we will open source the full server-side .NET core stack from ASP.NET 5 to the CLR and BCL and this version will run on Linux and MacOS X as well as Windows.

Other announcements today include the release of Azure SDK version 2.5, TypeScript 1.3 support in VS 2013, and the Visual Studio Tools for Unity 2.0 Preview. The Visual Studio 2015 Preview release notes have a complete list of all new releases, features, and bug fixes.

Since the majority of initial comments tend to be questions about supported configurations, I’ll put this up front: before you try to upgrade from Visual Studio “14” CTPs to Visual Studio 2015 Ultimate Preview, first uninstall Visual Studio “14” CTP – if you don’t, your system can wind up in an unstable state.

To announce all this product goodness, today we’re holding the Connect(); event in New York. Check out the keynotes on channel 9 as well as the blog posts by Somasegar and Brian Harry. You can also watch more than 50 technical on-demand sessions on Channel 9 Connect Event page.

Visual Studio 2015 Preview

We’ve done a few CTPs of Visual Studio 2015 , and today we’re making a full Preview available. It includes cross platform device development in C++, an Android emulator, updated tooling for Apache Cordova, the open source .NET compiler platform, support for ASP.NET 5, and many IDE features.

Before diving into features, I want to talk about setup. With almost every release customers tell us how Visual Studio setup is large and how it installed components that they didn’t want. Well, the Preview is even larger – it includes lots of emulators and third-party components – and it includes a two-part installer. We’re going to work on this area for future releases. As part of the work, we want to understand more about which components of Visual Studio you want, so we’ve done something a little unusual in Preview setup: we’ve unselected all the components and are requiring you to select something (even if it’s “just give me the core of VS”) before setup advances. We’ll use the data about the components you select to help pick smart defaults for the final release.

With that out of the way, here’s some of what’s in the release:

Visual C++ for Cross Platform Mobile Development. Visual Studio 2015 adds support for cross-platform mobile development using C++ leveraging the open source Clang and LLVM toolchain, enabling you to share, reuse, build, deploy, and debug libraries for other operating systems in VS. We’re starting with support for Android devices and will add more platforms in the future. You can create projects from templates for Android Native Activity apps or for shared code libraries that you can use on multiple platforms and in Xamarin hybrid apps. You can also set breakpoints, watch variables, view the stack and step through code in the Visual Studio debugger. For more information check out the post on VC++ blog.

Visual Studio Emulator for Android. Visual Studio obviously already has a strong emulator for Windows Phone, but as Visual Studio expands to enable you to build apps for more devices, we need to ensure you still get a great emulation experience for those devices. So today we’re releasing a fast, reliable Android emulator that works alongside the other Visual Studio emulators (meaning it’s Hyper-V-based). Read about it here.

Emulator for Android

Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova. If you’ve been following the CTPs of Visual Studio 2015 and the Visual Studio 2013 Tools for Apache Cordova (formerly known as Multi-Device Hybrid Apps), you’ll be familiar with what we’ve been doing to enable JavaScript developers to target Android and iOS devices. Visual Studio 2015 Preview extends full debugging support to iOS, both devices and simulators, in addition to the existing capabilities on Android. Customers will also find a new and improved plugin management experience that allows adding custom plugins from git or the file system, along with the ability to configure their apps for individual platforms. Lastly, we’re bringing you support for Cordova 4.0, that includes many bug fixes and stability improvements. [UPDATE blog post on Tools for Apache Cordova iOS Debugging and Windows 8.1 support.]

Apache Cordova Emulator

.NET 2015 Preview. There’s a lot going on with .NET, including the .NET Framework 4.6, ASP.NET 5, and .NET Core 5. There are also updates to WPF (see the next paragraph) and Windows Forms, performance enhancements to RyuJIT, and improvements to .NET’s SIMD support. Perhaps most notably, we announced that we will open source .NET Core 5 and support it on Windows, Linux and Mac, for ASP.NET 5 apps: Microsoft is contributing .NET Core 5 to the .NET Foundation and the team will be working on .NET Core 5 on GitHub and is encouraging community engagements. You can learn all the details on the .NET blog.

WPF vNext Roadmap. Today we’re rolling out a roadmap for WPF and have added new features such as support for transparent child windows, multi-image cursor files, and we fixed many customer reported issues. We also improved the Visual Studio WPF tooling with improvements to Blend, new visual diagnostic tools, and a timeline tool for performance diagnostics. The best place to ask WPF questions or engage with the team is in the comments of the WPF specific post.

WPF vNext VisualDiagnostics

Web platform and tools improvement. We’ve made numerous improvements to ASP.NET projects including improving current generation technologies such as Web Forms, the Visual Studio page inspectors, and the Visual Studio JSON, HTML, and CSS editors. Beyond that, though, when you install Visual Studio 2015 Preview, you’ll get the ASP.NET 5 Preview, which unifies ASP.NET MVC and Web API into a single programming model and, in Visual Studio, provides a no-compile developer experience. There’s a lot in ASP.NET 5 and if you want all the details and to look at the source code, check out the project on GitHub. The Visual Studio tooling includes templates that utilize Bower for front end package management, NPM and Grunt to manage tasks. New ASP.NET 5 applications also contain an early preview of Entity Framework 7. Perhaps most notably, ASP.NET 5 is an open source project, managed through the .NET Foundation and taking contributions in GitHub. For complete details, please see .NET Web Development and Tools blog and ASP.NET site.

IDE Features. There are many improvements to the IDE including improved support for touch screens and high-DPI devices (such as the Surface Pro 3), and the ability to save and restore arbitrary window layouts and to roam those layouts across Visual Studio instances. We have more details in the release notes and will blog more about these features going forward.

Blend for Visual Studio 2015. Blend has a sleek new look and a Blend-exclusive Dark theme to help make Blend and VS look more alike. More importantly, Blend now includes XAML IntelliSense, XAML peek, and basic debugging capabilities. Keep an eye out for an upcoming post for detailed list of all the features we enabled for this new release of Blend.[UPDATE blog post on Blend for Visual Studio 2015 Preview.]

Blend User Interface

Debugging. You probably already know from earlier CTPs about PerfTips the new configuration experience for breakpoints, and the C++ debugging improvements. With Visual Studio2015 Preview we also addressed your top debugger UserVoice item: you can now use lambda expressions in the Watch and Immediate debugger windows while debugging C# and Visual Basic.

Memory Diagnostics. Memory diagnostic sessions (Alt+F2) enable you to monitor the live memory use of your application. Heap snapshots capture a momentary image of the heap, and you can examine differences in heap state by comparing two memory snapshots. For more information, check out this walkthrough of using the tool on a Windows Phone app as well as this blog post showing how to view instance values and allocation call stacks in a native app.

Application Insights. We released Application Insights first as an extension and then integrated with Visual Studio 2013 in Update 3. We’ve now fully integrated Application Insights into Visual Studio 2015 to make it easy for you to add monitoring to your projects and we’ve smoothed the workflow to publish to an Azure website. Visit the Azure website to get started and learn more about Application Insights.

Add Connected Services. We’ve redesigned and improved our Add Connected Service dialog so you can quickly and easily connect to cloud based services such as Azure Storage, Azure Mobile Services, Office 365, and Salesforce. Additionally, you can also set up Azure Active Directory single sign on for ASP.NET Web projects. Keep an eye out for more details in a subsequent blog post. To use the Add Connected Service dialog, right click on the References node in Solution Explorer and choose Add Connected Service…

Add Connected Service

To learn about all the features and improvements in this release check out the Visual Studio 2015 Preview release notes.

Visual Studio Community 2013

As I mentioned at the start of this post, today we introduced a new free edition of Visual Studio: Visual Studio Community 2013. Built off of the Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 release, VS Community enables you to develop everything from Windows Forms and WPF and MFC to Windows Phone and Store to Azure and ASP.NET – it’s basically a superset of the existing VS Express products. More than that, it includes support for the ecosystem of over 5,000 Visual Studio extensions. Read the Visual Studio Community 2013 release notes and watch the Visual Studio Community 2013 video to learn all about what you can do with this release. Visual Studio Community 2013 is meant for use by open source developers, startups, students, and hobbyists, rather than enterprises. To try it out you could use an Azure VM image.

Visual Studio 2013 Update 4

The final version of Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 is also available today (here’s a video walkthrough), which includes:

CodeLens. In Visual Studio Ultimate, CodeLens indicators help you learn about your code while staying focused on your work. You can find code references, changes to your code, related TFS items, and unit tests without looking away from the code. To improve performance, we reduced the size of CodeLens data so CodeLens only processes changes from the last 12 months to calculate team indicators. Learn more about CodeLens and TFSConfig CodeIndex command where you can change the duration of data processed by CodeLens.

C++ Diagnostics. You can now easily determine if the CPU or GPU is the performance bottleneck with the use of the new GPU usage tool in the Performance and Diagnostics hub. This tool is available for both Windows Desktop and Windows Store Apps. Learn more about GPU Usage.

C++ diagnostics

ASP.NET and Web Tools. In this update we’ve improved the JSON and HTML editors. JSON editor improvements include JSON Schema validation, ability to un-minify long arrays, reload schema, and duplicate property validation. HTML editor improvements include better client template formatting, support for custom elements, polymer-elements, and attributes. Improvements to HTML also include basic IntelliSense for web components, tooltips for HTML elements, #region support, support for Todo/Hack comment, Angular icons, and Bootstrap icons. We also improved the CSS/LESS/Sass editors to include Todo/Hack comment support, @viewport fix and more snippets. Additionally, CSS changes are automatically synced with browser in Brower Link and we added web jobs tooling support in Server Explorer.

Release Management Service in Visual Studio Online (Visual Studio 2013). You can now set up a release pipeline in Visual Studio Online from check-in through to deployment without having to install and maintain an on-premises Release Management server. To use the Release Management Preview service, download and launch Release Management for Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 client, and then connect to your Visual Studio Online account and create a release definition for your app. Check out this blog post to learn more about how to use release management.

Release Management

Version Control (Visual Studio 2013). When working with Git, pull requests are essential in the workflow to manage code. Pull requests help you work in a different branch than your colleagues and get feedback by moving your code to the main branch where your colleagues can easily provide code reviews before you check in your code. With Update 4 you can now use pull requests to review and manage your code.

RequireJS Support. In our JavaScript editor we now provide built-in support for the popular RequireJS JavaScript file and modular loader. RequireJS makes it easier to define dependencies between modules of code and dynamically load those modules only when they’re needed. When writing JavaScript code that uses RequireJS, you’ll now see IntelliSense suggestions provided for modules you’ve referenced from your module definition or referenced via calls to require() from within your code.


To learn about all the features and improvements in this release check out the Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 release notes.

We’ve released updates at a regular cadence over the past few months and would like to know your thoughts about these updates through this survey. Your feedback will help guide our decision making about Visual Studio Updates.

Other Releases

Apart from Visual Studio, we announced several other items today:

  • Azure SDK 2.5 (Visual Studio 2015 Preview, Visual Studio 2013/2012). This release provides new and enhanced tooling for Azure development with Visual Studio 2015 Preview and Visual Studio 2013 Update 4, including Azure Resource Manager Tools, HDInsight Tools, and the ability to manage Azure WebJobs from Server Explorer. Read this detailed blog post to learn more about what’s new in this release of Azure SDK 2.5.

  • C++ Function Extraction (Visual Studio 2015 Preview). You can now easily move selected code into its own function. This refactoring is available as an extension to Visual Studio on the VS Gallery.

  • Visual Studio Tools for Unity 2.0 Preview (Visual Studio 2015 Preview, Visual Studio 2013/2012/2010). VSTU 2.0 Preview release works with Visual Studio 2015, and refreshes VSTU for Visual Studio 2013, Visual Studio 2012, and Visual Studio 2010 with additional features such as better visualization of objects in the Watch and Locals windows. We also added shader editor support for Unity shaders (.shader, .cginc) for VS 2015. Check out the news page for more information.

Visual Studio Tools for Unity

  • Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova CTP3 (Visual Studio 2013). Formerly known as Multi-Device Hybrid Apps, Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova makes it easy to build, debug, and test cross-platform apps that target Android, iOS, Windows, and Windows Phone from one simple Visual Studio project. With CTP3 for Visual Studio 2013 Update 4, we have a host of new features – developers no longer need to rebuild for their changes to be updated to Apache Ripple. We’ve extended full debugging support to iOS, both devices and simulators, in addition to the existing capabilities on Android. Customers will also find a new and improved plugin management experience that allows adding custom plugins from git or the file system, along with the ability to configure their apps for individual platforms. Lastly, we’re bringing you support for Cordova 4.0, that includes many bug fixes and stability improvements. Read more about CTP3. Install Visual Studio tools for Apache Cordova CTP3.

  • TypeScript 1.3 (Visual Studio 2013). This release extends the TypeScript language with tuple types and the ‘protected’ access modifier. It is also the first release to highlight a new Roslyn-based code editing experience in Visual Studio 2015. To learn more, check out the Announcing TypeScript 1.3 blog post.

  • Office Developer Tools (Visual Studio 2013). Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 includes the new Office 365 API Tools, which make it easy to develop apps that connect to Office 365 APIs. Simply choose the Add Connected Service item on the project context menu to create the app entry in Azure Active Directory and to add the appropriate references and configuration in your solution. The tool supports most project types in Visual Studio 2013, including ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Web Forms, WPF, Windows Forms, Universal Apps, Apache Cordova, and Xamarin. Download the latest update of Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2013.

Making Feedback Easier to Give

We get a lot of feedback from you through UserVoice, Connect, and Send-a-Smile (as well as regular old email). Prior to VS 2015, you could only file detailed bug reports via Microsoft Connect or by installing the Visual Studio Feedback tool. We think we can make it easier – a lot easier. In particular, Send-a-Smile makes it easy to include a screen shot or crash or performance issue. In the Visual Studio 2015 Preview, we’re improving that experience. To start, we’ve added a second dialog to Send-a-Frown to make it easier for you to quickly provide detailed bug data and repro steps with just a few clicks directly from within the IDE. Try it by going to Help -> Feedback -> Send a Frown.

File a bug in Send a Frown




John Montgomery, Director of Program Management, Visual Studio Platform

John has been at Microsoft for 15 years, working in developer technologies the whole time. Most recently before working on the Visual Studio core development environment, he was working on the tools for Windows 8 development.