Continuing its less formal "blog the news to developers rather than issue a press release" tactics this month is Microsoft with the launch of Team Foundation Service. A year's beta-level gestation period sees this hosted Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) software now emerge in a more fully blown form.
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Microsoft's Brain Harry blogs as follows, "One year ago, at the first BUILD conference, we unveiled the limited preview of Team Foundation Service. At Tech Ed, in June, we removed the 'invitation code' mechanism and opened it up for anyone to try in a public preview. Now, a year after its introduction, we're announcing that the service is out of preview and is now available for full production use."
The concept here is to provide enterprise-style ALM but at a more accessible (i.e., lower and smaller) level to developers who could still benefit from ALM-centric tools and services to manage their projects.
Supplied at no cost for five users or fewer, Microsoft confirms that paid MSDN subscribers can just sign up for the free plan today. "When we begin charging in 2013, access to the service will be offered as a benefit at no additional charge," says the firm.
This product is essentially a hosted version of the company's Team Foundation Server (as opposed to Service) ALM software running on the Windows Azure cloud service.
Version control and item tracking will feature as well as project planning and project management tools. Further functionality will also reportedly encompass build automation and continuous deployment — although the building tools are only presented in preview mode status at this time.
NOTE: For reader interest, the Xcode developer tools package provides developer tools for applications on Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Xcode is tightly integrated with the Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks as the development environment that is "powerful enough" (says Apple) to be the same tools used by Apple to produce OS X and iOS.
Microsoft is expected to market Team Foundation Service as an alternative to an on-premise ALM solution.