Visual Studio 98--code-named "Aspen"--will ship in stages over the next year, with the final components due in mid-1998. The next version of Microsoft's popular development suite will include support for Internet Explorer 4.0's ActiveX controls, Dynamic HTML, and Windows NT 5.0/DNA, according to Paul Gross, the Microsoft VP of developer tools. Gross will highlight new features in Visual Studio 98 during his keynote address at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) on Friday.

A future version of Visual Studio--code-named "Ranier"--will support COM+, the next version of COM. Ranier will include the next version of SQL Server, code-named Sphinx and extensive OLE-DB support. It is expected in mid-1999.

Gross also cleared up a misconception about a project code-named "Vegas," which many people took to be the next version of Visual J++. Actually, Gross said, Vegas is the code-name for the new Visual Studio 98 user interface, which will be based on work started with the Visual Basic 5.0 user interface, not the existing Developer Studio IDE.

"It's the code word for some RAD features for the integrated development environment," he said