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Hot on the heels of the release of the Windows 8 RTM bits, Microsoft has made the final versions of Visual Studio 2012 and .NET 4.5 available for download for developers who can't wait to get started with the new OS.

According to a blog post from S. Somasegar, corporate VP of Redmond's developer division, MSDN members can download the full version of Visual Studio 2012 from the program's Subscriber Downloads website as of Wednesday.

Volume licensing customers will have to wait just a little longer, as Visual Studio won't arrive in the Volume Licensing Servicing Center until Thursday.

Several components of Visual Studio Express 2012, the free product line intended for student and hobbyist programmers, are also now available. The items released on Wednesday include Visual Studio Express for Windows 8, Visual Studio Express for Web, and Team Foundation Server Express.

Desktop application developers take note, however. Visual Studio Express for Windows 8 only allows you to build so-called Modern UI apps, which run in the new Windows 8 Start Menu.

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop, a version that allows you to build applications using the more traditional Windows UI, will be released "later in the fall," Somasegar says, along with Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Phone.

Other recently released developer add-ons, including the June 2012 release of the Windows Azure SDK for .NET and Microsoft Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012, have also been updated to work with the new version of the IDE.

In addition, Redmond has released a preview version of its Blend UI design tool that allows developers to create interfaces for Windows Presentation Foundation 4.5 and Silverlight 5, capabilities that are missing from the version of Blend that ships with Visual Studio 2012 RTM.

Trial versions of the Ultimate, Premium, Professional, and Test Professional versions of VS 2012 are available from the main Visual Studio website, and Somasegar says customers in some regions will be able to purchase versions of the IDE as digital downloads in the coming days.

Packaged versions of the Visual Studio 2012 should begin arriving on retail shelves sometime around the product's official September 12 launch date. ®

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