Today we have a day of betas and early previews. Personally, since OS/2 Warp (OMG, it’s already around 17 years ago!) I avoid installing Betas and CTPs as hard as I can. OS/2 Warp taught me that lesson and I don’t think I will ever forget it. Anyway, for those more courageous - here we are - today’s releases:

Honestly, I’ve expected 2011 to be a Year of Tablet. But not a single tablet (the iOS one…) but tablet in general. I expected low price Android tablets getting more and more popular and personally I was waiting for tablets with Windows 7 under-the-hood (“touchy” interface support is already built in, isn’t it?). It didn’t happen as soon as I expected, but it seems Windows 8 may bring this tablet revolution in 2012. New interface paradigm, shaped for natural interfaces. All clear, simple and already proven in Windows Phone 7 / 7.5. You can check it on your own by installing this preview.
Visual Studio 11 Beta and .NET 4.5 Beta (http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/11/en-us/downloads)
No need for long comment here. You wanna be up-to-date? You have to check new Visual Studio. Personally, it doesn’t seem like a major revolution for me, but you can make your own opinion by installing it on your rig or just by looking here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/jasonz/archive/2012/02/29/welcome-to-the-beta-of-visual-studio-11-and-net-framework-4-5.aspx
New framework version is a different story - you can find a list of changes here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/1d971dd7-10fc-4692-8dac-30ca308fc0fa(v=vs.110)
ASP.NET MVC 4 Beta (http://www.asp.net/mvc/mvc4)
If you read my blog from time to time, you already know I’m very enthusiastic about ASP.NET MVC, but I’ll spare you marking this time :) Brief introduction to improvements in version 4 can be found here: http://www.infoq.com/news/2012/02/MVC-4 Btw. stay alert as new MEAP for ASP.NET MVC 4 book should be published very soon on http://www.manning.com.
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Enough about betas, I have one more interesting observation to share. Azure is down. For almost 12 hrs now. Similar downtimes happened before at different providers (including Amazon), so it’s not like a big shock, but frankly speaking - wasn’t cloud about eliminating single point of failure as well? This part doesn’t work, so we move to the other part? Maybe I’m too naive, but whole cloud down seems like a major disaster and big hit to theorem of cloud computing. You can check what’s going on with Azure here (well, not all the time, as this site goes down periodically as well…) - http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/support/service-dashboard/. Full story about Azure failure can be found here: http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2012/02/29/windows-azure-cloud-hit-by-downtime/