Microsoft revamps its developer tools with a new cloud focus

Also a flurry of announcements on mobile and open source offerings

Goodbye Visual Studio Online – Hello Team Services

Microsoft's Visual Studio Online, for developer collaboration, code and project management, is now renamed to Visual Studio Team Services, avoiding confusion for those who expect it to be a cloud-hosted IDE.

There are new features, including a plug-in for IntelliJ IDEA (a version of which is used by Google for Android Studio), extensions for NuGet package management, code search and release management, and a new build service and dashboard.

Visual Studio Online - now called Visual Studio Team Services

Visual Studio Online ... is now called Visual Studio Team Services

The company has also announced a partnership with MacinCloud which offers users of Visual Studio Team Services an extension for compiling for Apple iOS or OS X using cloud-hosted Mac computers.

The company is wrapping its free developer offerings in a new program called Visual Studio Dev Essentials. This includes access to the Community edition of Visual Studio and the free level of Visual Studio Team Services, Azure credits for test and development, some degree of free usage of HockeyApp analytics, and access to third-party training from Pluralsight, Wintellect and Xamarin.

On the cloud development side, Microsoft has announced the public preview of Azure Service Fabric, a platform for running microservices, which are cloud-hosted components for distributed applications.

Two APIs, called Reliable Actors and Reliable Services, let developers build .NET services with various options for state management, a tricky problem for distributed applications.

Microsoft claims that Azure Service Fabric is based on its own solutions for running high-scale cloud applications for Azure and Office 365.

Talking of Office 365, the company has also announced the general availability of Microsoft Graph, an API for Office 365 services. The Microsoft Graph is not to be confused with the Office Graph. Microsoft Graph is a general API for interacting with Office 365, parts of which are now fully released, and parts of which remain in preview.

The Office Graph analyses Office 365 relationships and content to enable intelligent queries, based on machine learning, and is used by the Office 365 Delve service. There is an API for Office Graph as part of Microsoft Graph, but it is still in preview.

Cloud first, Windows optional

What is notable is how few of Microsoft's announcements relate to Windows development. The focus is on cloud and cross-platform, both on the server side with .NET Core, and on the mobile side with Android and iOS.

Provided you use Microsoft's cloud services, whether Azure or Office 365, the company no longer worries, it seems, about what operating system users are running. This is a reversal of how Microsoft built its business in the past, based on Windows driving adoption of Microsoft's desktop and server applications. The cloud changes everything. ®

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