March 29, 2005

VS6 vs VS.NET vs VS2005

Microsoft has been trying to say that because they're giving us so much more with Team System, that's why they're charging so much.

Okay, let's say I buy that. So riddle me this, Batman...why didn't you drop the price for Visual Studio .NET 2002 Enterprise Architect, then? After all, you did remove several features from Visual Studio.

Most people right now are looking at the above sentence and saying, "Wha?" Allow me to demonstrate.

I have installed Windows 2000 Workstation in a virtual machine, and I've got my 1999 copy of Visual Studio 6.0 Enterprise Edition right here.

Picture of Visual Studio 6.0 Enterprise installation dialog

Right here, we can see that we've already lost all the tools for Mort. Visual Interdev 6.0 was Mort's and Elvis's web designer. It was a step up from FrontPage, a step down from Visual Basic 6.0. We've lost Visual FoxPro 6.0. Now FoxPro is a seperate product line and never again will they meet. Because of the emphasis on needing to know OOP and proper programming form, the Visual Studio product line in 2002, 2003 and now 2005 are now essentially Mort-less. Trust me, a streamlined UI doesn't make a language for Mort. A streamlined *language* is a Mort language.

My copy of Visual Studio 6.0 comes with Visual J++ 6.0, but the removal of that can't be blamed on Microsoft. We'll blame Sun Microsystems for that one.

SourceSafe comes with VS 6.0 Enterprise. It comes on a seperate CD in VS.NET 2002 and 2003. Heck, SourceSafe comes with Team System. Of course, all other VS SKU's have to pay for SourceSafe, but isn't SourceSafe worth the extra $8,000? I ask because unless you spend an extra $2,700 for Team Foundation Server, you can't use the test case management, project management or source control features of Team System.

Visual Studio 6.0 comes with a wonderfully archaic icon and graphic set that bring back memories of Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. That same icon and graphic set came in VS.NET 2002 and 2003, although it's finally getting an upgrade in VS 2005. So, are you upgrading all 919 files, or are you shipping icons in addition to the 919 that are already there?

Visual Studio 6.0 came with a supported Help File creation utility. HCW was no longer supported in VS.NET 2002 and 2003. In fact, a seperate download was required to make the HTML Help files. What Help utility will be included in VS 2005?

Visual Studio 6.0 came with InstallShield Express for Visual C++, a decent installation utility that didn't require an extra runtime to be present on the end user's machine in order for an installation to occur. It also came with the Package and Deployment Wizard for Visual Basic, which installed the necessary Visual Basic runtimes when needed. The installer that came with Visual Studio .NET 2002 on did not meet either of those requirements.

Picture of Visual C++ 6.0 'Enable Profile' checkbox

Will you look at that? Visual Studio 6.0 came with a code profiler for C++. Is it just me, or was there no profiler in VS.NET 2002/2003?

Visual C++ 6.0 also included the functionality to export a makefile for those command-line builds that were just too complex for the IDE to handle. Funny, didn't get that one in VS.NET 2002/2003 either.

Look, I'm not saying that the Team System feature set isn't impressive, but are we truly to believe that new icons, the return of a profiler, static analysis tools that have been in use inside Microsoft for years and have already paid for themselves time and time again, a slight enhancement of a test case management system that has been in-use inside Microsoft for several years, code coverage which looks like C-Cover in disguise, what are essentially enhanced enterprise templates and tons of extra features that are useless without spending an extra $2,700 on a server are worth an extra $8k?

One other thing is missing from the Team System lineup (besides logical pricing and feature separation): a bug tracking/source control only SKU. At those prices, there is no way on Earth that I'm going to be able to affort $5k+ for year 1 per tester just so they can file and regress bugs. Same with content creators, help file makers, document editors, localization script writers, etc. The ROI just isn't there.

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