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Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 delivers modest improvements

One bright spot: the IDE now comes in blue, too

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In keeping with its vow to ship updates for its flagship software development tools in "a regular cadence," Microsoft has delivered Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 just a little over four months after it shipped the last one.

Like that first update package, which arrived around two months after VS2012's September 2012 launch, Update 2 includes a mix of bug fixes, performance improvements, and new features, according to a blog post by Soma Somasegar, corporate VP of Redmond's developer division.

"The new functionality primarily spans (though is not limited to) five areas of investment: agile planning, quality enablement, Windows Store development, line-of-business development, and the general developer experience," Somasegar wrote.

The new update improves on the agile development tools introduced in Update 1, for example by allowing organizations to customize their Kanban boards and add metadata to work items for better organization and reporting.

It also includes more tools for software testing, such as improved support for unit-testing asynchronous code and unit-test support for Windows Phone 8 apps and SharePoint 2013. In addition, developers can now access Team Foundation Server's Test Case Management tools through the web portal.

On the Windows 8 front, VS2012 Update 2 includes a new profiling tool for JavaScript code to help developers spot UI slowdowns in Windows Store apps, and also bundles the latest version of the Windows App Certification Kit.

Somasegar says Microsoft has dusted off the core Visual Studio IDE with this release, as well, with UI responsiveness improvements and – gasp! – a new "blue" UI theme to join the rather dreary "light" and "dark" themes that shipped with the suite.

The full list of changes in Update 2, including bug fixes, can be found in Microsoft's formal release notes.

Developers who want to learn more – and have the better part of an hour to kill – can watch a walk-through of some Update 2 features that was released to Microsoft's Channel 9 video site on Thursday:

Visual Studio 2012 Update 2: You might want to pack a lunch for the demo

Others may prefer to just go ahead and download the update, which is available for free from Microsoft's Download Center.

Somasegar did not say when the next update pack for VS2012 will be released, but if Redmond keeps up at its current pace, we should see another set of new fixes and features arrive by this summer. ®

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