I finally got to download it. Well I TRIED to download it. It is amazing. I wonder, if they wanted to make it more difficult, would it be possible?
First, it is not an install, it’s a virtual PC image. So, you must have Microsoft VPC 2007, with a service pack. Once you are done with that, you must manually download 11 archive parts – one by one, and then unRAR them locally. And it is 7GB in size – archived!
It feels more like downloading a ripped DVD from a shady web site than a beta of a commercial product. I would not be surprised if while unRARing it showed something like “M$ Vizual Studio CR@CK3D BY H@x0RB1@d3” surrounded by fancy pseudo-graphics. 🙂
It looks like Microsoft becomes more and more aggressive in offloading debugging of their products to the customers. Microsofters live in an imaginary future world. By the time you get .NET framework 2.0 approved by your IT department and globally rolled out in your firm, they are already working on version 4.0 and have very little interest in looking back.
As a result, bugs in retail products simply don’t get fixed (I am not talking security holes here). Contacting MS technical support is usually useless. First you have to fight to prove you are not an idiot and it is THEIR fault, and then you get a reply like “this API is now obsolete; we have a better one in the new version of .NET framework” or “you will have to wait for the next version of Visual Studio”.
The only time they actually do listen to bug reports is during the beta cycle. So, if you want the product to be clean you basically MUST download the beta and work as Microsoft QA for free. Dealing with Betas is never easy – they don’t install well, they never upgrade, and they frequently cannot remove themselves cleanly from the system. So, you must either have separate hardware for tests, or run betas in a virtual machine. Taking account that Visual Studio is not exceptionally fast even when running on regular hardware, you must have a killer PC to run it on a virtual machine. So, Microsoft has successfully offloaded QA costs to you, the developer, in both material a effort.
Now they seemed to have made the next logical step: they did away with the installer altogether. Why bother – it does not work well anyway in betas. If developers are ready to work as Microsoft QA for free, they would not mind clicking through 12+ links and downloading a gigantic virtual machine. It is either that, or getting a buggy product.