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Microsoft is hiding some of Visual Studio's advanced coding capabilities to help suits build Office and SharePoint applications.

The company is due to announce Visual Studio Lightswitch on Tuesday to not just simplify development of business applications but also to make it easier for IT teams to maintain such apps.

Due to be previewed by Microsoft at VS!Live in Redmond, Washington, Visual Studio Lightswitch is scheduled for a beta kick-around on August 23.

Lightswitch will feature a set of templates for common applications that contain interfaces and data bindings to Office, SharePoint, Silverlight, Windows, and SQL Azure to access data and for the apps' deployment on the desktop, devices, and Microsoft's cloud.

According to Microsoft, Lightswitch is an environment for choreographing applications that hides many of Visual Studio's toolbars and menu options, and instead lets you compose apps.

The beta will pack two or three templates, with Microsoft looking to existing Visual Studio plug-in providers to deliver the rest.

Lightswitch is aimed at business types who'd normally just maintain huge lists in Excel, or work with Office or third-party tools to build apps that talk to SharePoint or Access in Office.

The payoff, presumably, is to assist IT departments when the suits who've built the apps hand them off or move on.

Microsoft's senior director for developer tools and platform marketing Dave Mendlen told The Reg that Lightswitch-built apps can be easily pulled into the full Visual Studio. Also, the fact that applications are running on top of the main .NET Framework means that there are fewer breakages and less need to scrap the original application and re-code it from scratch.

"Under the covers it's Visual Studio, so hand-off to Visual Studio developers is simple, because it's a well-architected Visual Studio application," Mendlen said. ®

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