Related: "Visual Studio 2013 Emphasizes Agile Development & DevOps Collaboration"

Microsoft debuted Visual Studio Online, a set of Windows Azure-based development tools that lets development teams create, deliver, and manage their applications in the cloud. The surprise announcement was made at Microsoft's launch event celebrating the release of Visual Studio 2013 and .NET 4.5.1 in New York City.

Following Microsoft’s trek into the cloud OS domain, Visual Studio Online is Microsoft’s first venture that extends the Visual Studio IDE with a collection of developer services that are hosted in Azure to provide end-to-end development experience for modern apps. Described as a new era for the IDE, Visual Studio Online is comprised of several different features, including the following:

  • Fundamental Team Foundation Service features, such as hosted source control, work-item tracking, agile planning, and build and load testing features are available in the Visual Studio Online public preview.
  • A Visual Studio Online Applications Insights service provides developers with in-depth information on their application’s health based on data about availability, performance, and usage.
  • Visual Studio Online “Monaco” is a coding environment for the cloud that provides a lightweight developer experience in the browser for targeted Azure development scenarios.

Visual Studio Online is free for teams up to five users. Visual Studio Express users can start taking advantage of Visual Studio Online, and the new cloud-based service is included with MSDN subscriptions. Users can sign up for a Visual Studio Online subscription plan, which includes access to the Visual Studio Professional IDE.

The announcement was made alongside the launch event for Visual Studio 2013 and .NET 4.5.1. You can read up on the latest Visual Studio 2013 productivity features by reading "Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 Now Available for Download" for a comprehensive list of our coverage on the IDE.