The next version of Microsoft's Visual Studio developer environment won't just allow programmers to create slick, great-looking applications based on the latest Microsoft presentation technologies. No, Visual Studio 2010 will itself be built on those same technologies and will become a poster child, of sorts, for what's possible today in application design.

"We're changing the user interface, the user experience of Visual Studio, for the first time in more than a decade," said Microsoft director of developer tools marketing Dave Mendlen. "We're going to make Visual Studio itself, the application, a WPF application. We're trying to help the developer feel great about the environment they work in."

Visual Studio 2010 is being completely rewritten using a leading-edge presentation technology called Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) that Microsoft first offered to developers in early form as far back as 2003. But as with many Longhorn/Vista-era technologies, WPF hasn't really caught on with developers, despite the fact that it makes it relatively easy to create rich and compelling user interfaces that are much more attractive than typical Windows applications today.

Microsoft says that by recasting Visual Studio 2010 in WPF, it can inspire the developers who use the product to make more exciting solutions of their own. But Visual Studio 2010 isn't just about looks. It will also offer developers "unprecedented" insight into application internals, automated code generation, full support for Silverlight 2.0, and other advances.

Visual Studio 2010 is expected in late 2009, Microsoft says, and as usual will be paired with a major platform delivery, in this case Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008. In fact, the development suite will include support for native Windows 7-era technologies like multi-touch.