On Tuesday, Microsoft announced Visual Studio for Applications (VSA), the company's upcoming set of technologies that will provide the customization capabilities for next generation .NET-based distributed applications. VSA, which will largely replace Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) in the .NET future, allows developers to quickly build customized versions of .NET applications for customers. For the initial version, Microsoft's Visual Basic.NET will be used for the language of VSA, but future releases will incorporate other Visual Studio.NET languages, such as C#. In addition to the VSA announcement, Microsoft has also identified a group of partners that are adopting the technology before its release.

"Microsoft is thrilled to be able to deliver the first technology that will enable rich customization," says Yuval Neeman, the vice president of Developer Division Management at Microsoft. "We are providing customers a real competitive advantage--the ability to use familiar tools and languages, saving them time and money, while delivering a product that meets their customers' unique needs."

Microsoft says that up to 40 percent of developers are currently using VBA to customize their desktop applications; the company hopes to have similar success with VSA and .NET-based distributed applications. Toward that goal, companies such as Great Plain Software, NetIQ, Epicor, and others will work with Microsoft to make their upcoming distributed apps customizable with VSA. Visual Studio for Applications is set for release this spring.