If you've been paying attention, then you knew it was coming. Today Microsoft released Beta 2 of Visual Studio 2008 (previously codenamed "Orcas"). The new version of Visual Studio includes a number of new features including the over-hyped LINQ as well as built-in support for ASP.NET AJAX.
Also released with Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2 is a Community Technical Preview (CTP) for Silverlight Add-in for Visual Studio 2008. This add-in will allow you to start working with Silverlight from within Visual Studio 2008. it will also let you work with designer items from the Expression Blend 2 August Preview product.
Along with Visual Studio 2008 is the release of the .NET Framework 3.5 Beta 2. This new version of the Framework will now include full project templates and tools fro many of the things that were released in the .NET Framework 3.0.
A little more 'baked' is the release of Silverlight 1.0's release candidate (RC). This provides designers and tools for building rich internet applications. You can see a brief example of using Silverlight in our video, Using Microsoft Silverlight by Jacob Sanford.
Often you need to wait to use betas because you aren't allowed to release anything you develop to the public. Microsoft has announced a Go Live License so that you can deploy solutions created with Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2, the .NET Framework 3.5, and Silverlight 1.0 RC.
If the downloads are not immediately available, they should be available by week's end (according to Microsoft):