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Microsoft's Visual Studio team has put the database division to shame. Days after Microsoft slipped out the news that the update to SQL Server will not be ready in time for next month's big-dog release event, Visual Studio 2008 has been released commercially - ahead of time.

Visual Studio 2008 is available for purchase under Microsoft's volume licensing programs, through retail channels, and is available for download via MSDN.

Inclusion on Microsoft's volume licensing list means that Visual Studio 2008 is now available to customers via Microsoft's Open, Select and Enterprise Agreement agreements.

This is the latest milestone for Visual Studio 2008, which was released to manufacturing and to MSDN subscribers, in line with expectations, last November.

VS '08 is the first version of Microsoft's tools suite and developer framework to fully utilize underlying architectural changes on the desktop that were introduced with Windows Vista.

One of the biggest new features is support for Microsoft's Language Integrated Query (LINQ) architecture. This simplifies programming with SQL objects, XML and relational data models in C# and Visual Basic.NET.

News of the Visual Studio 2008 availability coupled with the fact that SQL Server 2008 is now delayed will take much of the shine off Microsoft's big launch event in Los Angeles next month. As things stand, just one of Microsoft's three new products - Windows Server 2008 - will actually qualify for official launch status. In other words, it will not have been previously available as a finished and packaged product and it is actually ready for users.®

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