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VSLive Microsoft has added cross-browser support to its application lifecycle platform, in a further sign that Internet Explorer's hold on developers is slowly loosening.

Microsoft has snapped up tiny devBiz Business Solutions, whose TeamPlain product enables Windows developers to look at code and evaluate software development projects hosted in the server component of Visual Studio 2005 Team System (VSTS). VSTS, launched in November 2005, is Microsoft's proto ALM suite challenger to the likes of IBM/Rational and Borland Software.

DevBiz supports Firefox 1.x in addition to Internet Explorer, according to Microsoft. The devBiz website claims TeamPlain doesn't require ActiveX components or Java applets, "just a decent web browser".

TeamPlain will continue to be made available for free, with Microsoft support added and ultimately rolled into the next edition of Visual Studio, codenamed Orcas, expected this year.

Support for non-Microsoft browsers follows development by Microsoft of Linux and Mac VSTS clients for developers building applications for Windows. Support is designed to extend VSTS use, and Windows development, to programmers on non-Microsoft platforms.

By exposing the VSTS Team Foundation Server Microsoft is opening up some of the project management capabilities and quality control aspects to VSTS, notably the build engine to look at the success and failure of builds, source code control, and access to the reporting system to view, edit and run reports on builds and projects.

"This enables us to provide access to code components of Team Foundation Server to a wider team - leaders of teams, application development managers, business analysts, IT people who need access to reporting functions, to find out what's good and bad," Visual Studio product manager Michael Leworthy told The Register.

Microsoft, meanwhile, revealed it's evaluating the addition of "dynamism" through support for scripting languages and language development - to programming of Office applications in Visual Studio Tools for Applications (VSTA). VSTA, targeted at independent software vendors and systems integrators, takes over from Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), which Microsoft claims is used by 20 million developers.

Announcing availability of the VSTA software development toolkit (SDK) at VSLive in San Francisco, California, on Tuesday, Microsoft said it could "see a role" for scripting languages and dynamic development "in the roadmap".

Visual Studio group product manager Jay Roxe told The Register "greater dynamism" would provide an onramp to building in Office, with developers passing on VSTA-built applications to "power users" or developers using Microsoft's Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO).

Roxe made it clear Microsoft is still taking feedback - which probably accounts for Tuesday's lack of exact detail. ®

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