Microsoft Unveils Second Beta LightSwitch

The latest component of Microsoft's Visual Studio family is one step closer to a final release.

Microsoft said today that it plans to release the second beta of LightSwitch, a software tool directed at developers who want to build business apps that run as both native and Web applications.

The new version, which becomes available MSDN subscribers today and everyone else on Thursday, adds a mix of new features from the previous beta, all aimed at increasing what can be done with the software.

The first is support for publishing applications to directly to Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud services platform. This is joined by a tool for Visual Studio Professional (or higher) that lets users make LightSwitch application extensions. Examples of these include things like data sources, screen templates, and themes, all of which can be thrown in to speed up application development.

Besides the new features, Microsoft has also announced language support for German, which joins English. When the final version of the software is released later this year, Microsoft says, it will be available in an additional eight languages, matching the 10 that are supported in Visual Studio.

Microsoft claims the software has been downloaded more than 100,000 times since the release of the first LightSwitch beta back in August.

LightSwitch continues to play a significant role in the company's initiative to let businesses and developers get a taste of the full Visual Studio experience, offering them a chance to bring projects to the more feature-fulled development platform if they outgrow the original intent.

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