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Microsoft announces innovations for all developers at Connect();

Five million people have downloaded Microsoft Visual Studio 2015 so far this year.

“That number is a testament,” says Julia Liuson, the newly appointed corporate vice president of Visual Studio and .NET, “to the fact that our vision of making the best tools for any developer, any platform and any app is really resonating around the world.”

Microsoft took a high-profile step on that journey at last year’s Connect(); virtual event for developers by unveiling plans to open source .NET on Linux and Mac and introducing the free Visual Studio Community for targeting any device and any operating system. At this year’s Connect();, taking place Nov. 18-19, the company is reinforcing its commitment by adding innovation to tools that existing customers will love, making powerful tools more open and flexible, and providing new ways for more devs to access Microsoft tools.

Liuson and Brian Harry, corporate vice president of Visual Studio’s Developer Division, are now heading up this charge. They took over from S. “Soma” Somasegar, the former corporate vice president of Visual Studio and .NET, who stepped down after more than a decade in the role and almost 30 years at the company. Liuson says, “Brian Harry and I both worked for Soma since 2003. He was a fantastic manager, a super caring person and went out of his way to create space for leaders to grow under him.”

Liuson is new to the position but not to Microsoft or developer engineering. She joined the company in 1992 as an engineer in the Office Division and moved into the developer space in 1996. She and Harry have worked together in a variety of different roles since 1998.

About this year’s Connect();, Liuson says, “We think developers will find that we’ve delivered more than a year’s worth of innovation in the 12 months since the last Connect. It literally takes me 20 minutes just to talk through the list of all of the releases.”

Some of the highlights include the immediate availability of Visual Studio Dev Essentials, a new, free program designed to provide any developer with everything they need to create applications on any device or operating system. The program provides easy access to popular Microsoft services, tools and resources as well as several new benefits to help developers get started building apps.

Liuson says, “Dev Essentials has a great set of benefits and tools – for free. This is Microsoft’s statement to the developer community about our learnings and about resources. And all of these things are accessible for all developers.”

Microsoft released Visual Studio Code beta as an open source project, available on GitHub. The new beta version of the cross-platform code editor, which has already been downloaded more than 1 million times in preview, includes a new extension model for Visual Studio Code with a gallery of extensions for additional features, themes and language support. The fact that Microsoft is putting Code beta on GitHub is a logical extension of that commitment to open source.

Liuson says, “We announced last year that we were going to open source .NET core and make it available across platform. Now we are releasing RCs [release candidates] for Linux, Mac and Windows. Another example of the huge amount of progress we’ve made in the last year.”

With this implementation of the .NET Core for any operating system, developers can start using it in production environments. There’s also an ASP.NET 5 RC that includes enhancements to both the runtime and tools with a simplified hosting model across Windows, OS X and Linux. Open sourcing the .NET Core and ASP.NET has already created new development opportunities for Microsoft customers like Verizon.

There are some other great innovations, such as Microsoft Graph, which provides developers a new way to access and show the data stored in Microsoft cloud. Liuson explains, “This was born out of Microsoft’s Applications and Services Group and is a great new capability for devs to take advantage of.”

Making it even easier to access Microsoft’s developer tools, the company introduced Visual Studio cloud subscriptions, which offer Visual Studio Professional and Visual Studio Enterprise as monthly or annual cloud subscriptions through a new Visual Studio Marketplace. These subscriptions offer the convenience of a single bill for both subscription purchases and Microsoft Azure cloud services like virtual machines and storage. The Visual Studio Marketplace is a central place for developers to find, acquire and install extensions for the Visual Studio IDEs. Liuson says, “This is a big moment for how we deliver Visual Studio and will create lots of new possibilities for the future.”

Last but not least, Microsoft is showing that it continues to bring innovation to the 5 million existing Visual Studio 2015 developers by previewing features of the next version of Visual Studio and announcing that Visual Studio 2015 Update 1 will be available on November 30.

Liuson just returned from meeting with devs and giving keynotes in Beijing and Shanghai. “The response was great in China,” she says. “We are excited to carry that momentum into Connect(); and will have even more to share with devs at the upcoming Microsoft Build Developer Conference. We feel like we’re on a roll – it’s a very exciting time.”