Today I started using the September 2006 CTP of Visual Studio Codename "Orcas".
Microsoft has started to distribute the "Orcas" CTPs as Virtual PC images which are based on a common Windows Server 2003 base image. The downloads are pretty large: 1.13 GB for the self-extracting EXE of the base image and 3.6 GB for the self-extracting EXE for the Orcas differencing disk. After extraction the numbers are 2.72 GB for the base image VHD and 9.27 GB for the Orcas VHD.
I extracted these files at home to a portable LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini hard-disk and transported them to work. My portable hard-disk is formatted as an EXT2 partition. The LaCie drive supports the NTFS format only as readonly when it is connected through Ethernet instead of through USB. I still want to able to use the drive as network-attached storage, so NTFS is not suitable for my drive. The drive does fully support FAT32, but FAT32 cannot store files bigger than 4GB. So FAT32 is not suitable either.
Windows XP does not natively support external drives formatted as EXT2 because it is a Linux format. Thankfully this can be fixed by the free-ware Ext2 Installable File System For Windows (Ext2fs).
Virtual PC 2004 SP1 doesn't seem to like accessing large files on an external EXT2 partition. I got some weird errors in the past when I tried booting a Virtual PC stored in that way. However, Virtual Server 2005 R2 (also available for free) works fine so I am using that instead.
If you look at the about box of Visual Studio Codename "Orcas" you can notice some things having the potential of causing incredible version confusion:
The "Orcas" Virtual PC has the following .NET Framework versions installed: 1.1, 2.0, 3.0 and 3.5.
Notice the inconsistency in the version numbering scheme. Why is it "v3.0" and "v3.5.60905"?! Previous feedback about naming inconsistencies hasn't had much effect. Also note:
Why is it Windows Workflow Foundation and just the acronym WPF?!
There is no support for .NET 3.0 in this "Orcas" CTP: there are no templates and designers for .NET 3.0 components like WPF, WCF and WF. Even though Microsoft has released these as the Microsoft Visual Studio Code Name “Orcas” Community Technology Preview – Development Tools for .NET Framework 3.0 ("Fidalgo").
The "Orcas" image is very large, but there is no Windows SDK installed. I think you are out of luck if you would try installing the Windows SDK for .NET 3.0 development and "Fidalgo": the build number for the RC1 of the .NET Framework 3.0 is 4324. This "Orcas" CTP contains the older build 4310.
"Orcas" is meant to target .NET 3.5, yet the about box says it is for .NET 2.0. "Orcas" still has the same major and minor version number 8.0 as Visual Studio 2005. It has the new C# 3.0 and VB 9.0 compilers and IntelliSense, but the installed products are still listed as Visual C# 2005 and Visual Basic 2005.
A version of LINQ is included in the System.Core DLL in the GAC. The file version number is 2.0.60905.0 and the assembly version number is 184.108.40.206. This makes it seem as though LINQ is part of .NET 2.0 instead of .NET 3.5. Fortunately it is placed in the Microsoft.NETFrameworkv3.5.60905 folder. Here is the content of that folder:
I couldn't find an other way to add a reference to the System.Core assembly to a Visual Studio project other than by manually adding a reference this DLL by browsing to this directory. These are the main namespaces in the System.Core assembly:
.NET 3.5 as released in this "Orcas" CTP is far from complete. Things that have been released as CTPs like LINQ designers, LINQ to XML, LINQ to SQL, ASP.NET AJAX (fka "Atlas"), BLINQ and ADO.NET "vNext" will eventually be integrated into the .NET Framework and Visual Studio, but they are nowhere to be found in this CTP.
Which begs the question: Microsoft, what's the point of releasing this "Orcas" CTP when there are so many things missing?