During Monday's keynote at TechEd North America 2013 in New Orleans, Brian Harry, Microsoft Technical Fellow and Product Unit Manager for Team Foundation Server, announced that Microsoft will be launching Visual Studio 2013 later this year. Developers will be able to get a first look at Visual Studio 2013 when a preview build is made publicly available later this month at Build 2013 in San Francisco.

Harry also led an informative demo on Visual Studio 2013's new ALM capabilities, which includes a heavy emphasis on agile development for the enterprise, as well as DevOps-specific enhancements to improve collaboration between development and operation teams. See "Visual Studio 2013 Emphasizes Agile Development & DevOps Collaboration" for detailed information about Microsoft's direction for its upcoming release.

Without further ado, here are my top five features from Monday's TechEd announcements that look the most promising to Visual Studio and TFS developers:

1. Agile Portfolio Management

This new Visual Studio 2013 feature lets developers plan their agile projects at scale by showing the hierarchical relationship between work that's done across multiple teams in an organization. As Harry mentions in his detailed blog post, this feature was developed to help enterprises better manage their projects so that they can also take advantage of the benefits that agile provides. Visual Studio 2013's new backlog capabilities makes it easier for better agile development by understanding that there are different levels of granularity for each level within an organization. These agile portfolio management capabilities will be included in TFS 2013 and are already available on Team Foundation Service today for devs who want to dive in and start taking advantage of these new capabilities.

2. Cloud-Based Load Testing

On one hand, load testing in the cloud is a very necessary task that shouldn't be ignored during development. On the other hand, this process can be a very frustrating, time consuming, and complicated task for developers. Microsoft is hoping to eliminate some of that hassle by introducing a cloud-based load testing capability. This new feature is integrated into Team Foundation Service and takes advantage of Windows Azure's elastic scalability to simulate thousands of virtual users simultaneously so that organizations can better understand and anticipate how their services will operate under load.

3. Heads Up Display

Also mentioned in Harry's demo is a new "heads up display" feature in Visual Studio that provides developers with several different insights into the code that's currently being worked on. There are several indicators makes the code that you're reading or editing much more meaningful. For example, if you're looking at a particular method, then an indicator will show different places in your code that references that method. Additional indicators also show a test's status for a particular method, along with displaying recent changes for a method that's currently being viewed. All in all, the heads up display looks like a really unique and powerful tool that lets developers debug and understand their code faster and more efficiently.

4. Team Rooms

"One of the core value propositions of Team Foundation Server is to help software development teams collaborate. This is usually by providing transparency into what is happening in the software development process so that everyone stays up to date and knows how to make the best decisions," Harry said. Microsoft is delivering on that promise by including a new Team Rooms feature. Think of Team Rooms as something that's similar to a chat environment, only that this feature's distinction is that it records everything that's going on within your team. Not only can you engage in conversations with your teammates in the Team Room, but you can also set notifications for check ins, builds, and code reviews. It's a great way to stay on top of what's going on without losing track of important tasks that need to be accomplished. Team Rooms are also enabled on Team Foundation Service now, and will also be included in the TFS 2013 preview at Build 2013.

5. Web Test Case Management

Microsoft is also improving on the web test management capabilities that were introduced in Visual Studio 2012 by enabling developers to fully manage their test plans without having to switch to the Test Professional client. What's neat about this feature is that developers can create and modify test plans, suites, and share steps on the web. In addition, you can add step attachments, use shared steps, and parameterize step data.

Those are only some of the highlights that we've learned after the keynote from TechEd North America on Monday. Undoubtedly, we'll learn more about Visual Studio 2013 and its new features at this month's developer Build 2013 conference toward the end of June. Want to stay up-to-date on the latest Visual Studio news? Be sure to check us out on our social media channels and give us a follow on Twitter at @devproconnect, Facebook, and Google+! Is there something that you'd like me to dive deeper into? Let me know your thoughts by reaching out to me on Twitter at @blair_greenwood!