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Microsoft buys InRelease for app building toolbox

Shows off impending Visual Studio, Team Foundation releases

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TechEd Not entirely satisfied with its application lifecycle management (ALM) tools, Microsoft has paid an undisclosed sum to buy software deployment tools from InCycle Software.

The announcement was made at the TechEd 2013 customer and partner event that Microsoft is hosting in New Orleans this week. Redmond also teased a bit about updates due later this year for Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server.

The acquisition of the InRelease release-management tool from InCycle Software is a bit of a no-brainer, technically speaking. The InRelease tool is a continuous-delivery tool for programmers developing in .NET to automate the release and deployment process in conjunction with Microsoft's Visual Studio Team Foundation Server programmer collaborative development extensions to the Visual Studio app development tool.

If you're trying to do continuous releases – as many IT shops are attempting to do – then automating the deployment of the apps leaves programmers more time to focus on development and testing. And hence, Microsoft wants to add this functionality directly to its toolbox.

Microsoft is not buying all of InCycle Software, but rather just the InRelease ALM tool. The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. InCycle Software is based in Laval, Quebec and was founded in 2002 by Claude Remillard, Martin Rajotte, and Leo Vildosola as a consultancy and became a certified partner for Visual Studio Team System three years later. Its first product, Team Release, came out un 2009 and was followed by the rebranded InRelease 2.0 a year later. In 2011, the company put out a freebie agile development tool called InCycle BluePrint, which Microsoft is not acquiring.

Microsoft was not specific about how it will integrate InRelease into the Visual Studio tools, but odds are that it will have more to say about it at the Build Developer Conference in San Francisco at the end of June, when the code for many of the R2 updates to Windows Server 2012, Systems Center 2012, and Visual Studio 2012 will become available in tech preview.

Brian Harry, a technical fellow (that's a title, not just an observation) at Microsoft who is also product manager of Team Foundation, said during the TechEd opening keynote on Monday that Microsoft has had over over 4 million downloads of Visual Studio 2012 since it debuted last fall. Visual Studio 2013 and team Foundation Server 2013 will come out later this year, with more information available at the Build conference in four weeks.

Harry showed off a few new features for the Microsoft development tools that will come in the 2013 releases. The first is called Team Room, and it is "a durable record of everything that happens with your team," as Harry put it. It is a timelime of all of the activity of the team, so that if you are away for a day, you can quickly get up to speed on what everyone has done while you are away.

Visual Studio is also going to get a "heads up display" of sorts, so that as you are coding away on apps, it shows the results of tests running on that code (where it passes and fails) as well as where the code snippet is being used in other applications, and a change indicator to show the last time a chunk of code changed and who tweaked it.

Microsoft will also roll out a cloudy load-testing service that will let developers push their apps out to the Team Foundation Service running out on the Windows Azure cloud instead of pushing out to their own iron.

At the moment, Team Foundation Service is available for free for up to five users spanning an unlimited number of projects. The build and test parts of the services are still in preview. Microsoft said that certain subscribers to the Microsoft Software Developer Network (MSDN) will get access to the Team Foundation Service for free once Microsoft shifts to additional pricing and plans later this year. ®

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