While the debut of the Windows 8 Release Preview was stealing the spotlight last week, Microsoft quietly launched the pre-release versions of the company's Visual Studio 2012, Team Foundation Server 2012 and Net Framework 4.5 development tools.
"Given where we are in the product cycle, these updates are primarily final touches on existing features, responses to beta customer feedback, and improvements to performance," said Jason Zander, corporate vice president for the Visual Studio team in Microsoft's Developer Division, in a blog post.
The new releases are available for download from Microsoft's Visual Studio Website.
The latest releases mark the first time the tools have formally been given the "2012" designation, previously marked "11". Zander said that commits Microsoft to shipping the final release-to-manufacturing versions this calendar year.
Microsoft shipped a developer preview of the new development tools in September -- the same time it shipped the developer preview of Windows 8 -- and a beta release in February, the same time as Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
Microsoft has sought to keep development of the Windows 8 and Visual Studio in synch and is expected to launch the RTM versions nearly simultaneously later this year.
Microsoft is touting Visual Studio 2012 as a more simplified and productive development environment for programmers and highlighting its support for collaborative and agile software teams.
A complete list of the Visual Studios 2012 features is available at the Microsoft Developer Network website.