The last part of the .NET initiative that I want to mention is Visual Studio .NET. Visual Studio .NET is Microsoft’s development environment. Microsoft has been working on it for many years and has incorporated a lot of .NET Framework specific features into it.
Visual Studio .NET runs on Windows NT 4, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and the Windows .NET Server Family servers, and it will run on future versions of Windows. Of course, the code produced by Visual Studio .NET will run on all these Windows platforms plus Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, and Windows Me. Like any good development environment, Visual Studio .NET includes a project manager; a source code editor; UI designers; lots of wizards, compilers, linkers, tools, and utilities; documentation; and debuggers. It supports building applications for both the 32-bit and 64-bit Windows platforms as well as for the new .NET Framework platform. Another important mprovement is that there is now just one integrated development environment for all programming languages.
Microsoft also provides a .NET Framework SDK. This free SDK includes all the language compilers, a bunch of tools, and a lot of documentation. Using this SDK, you can develop applications for the .NET Framework without using Visual Studio .NET. You’ll just have to use your own editor and project management system. You also don’t get drag-and-drop Web Forms and Windows Forms building. I use Visual Studio .NET regularly and will refer to it throughout this book. However, this book is mostly about programming in general, so Visual Studio .NET isn’t required to learn, use, and understand the concepts I present in each chapter.