.NET hosting users can read about the .NET Framework beta updates and hope Microsoft releases the official version sooner, rather than later.

On February 29th, Microsoft released .NET Framework 4.5 beta and Visual Studio 11 beta. We know all of our .NET hosting customers are itching to know what to expect once Microsoft beta testers work out the kinks. Check out our synopsis for a brief preview:

The company’s press release explains that when building the latest version of Visual Studio, Microsoft wanted to make sure developers in C++, JavaScript, Visual Basic, or C# would be able to feel comfortable within Visual Studio. Along the same lines, the goal while the company was developing .NET Framework 4.5 was to help developers as much as possible to make efficient and scalable Windows Server and Windows Azure applications. More applications for those products hopefully turns into more users for Microsoft.

So how exactly did Microsoft improve on the previous iteration of Visual Studio? First off, they simplified the user interface so navigation would be easier for long-time developers and new Visual Studio users alike. Specifically, there are now fewer commands on the toolbar so it’s less distracting. That also frees up screen real estate for being able to view more code at once or to customize the toolbar with the commands that certain projects might require.

Next, Microsoft simplified the graphics within Visual Studio. Before, the tools used a lot of different colors, which took focus away from actual code and content users were creating. Additionally, the iconography received a simplification so that, once again, nothing in an open window would be competing for a user’s attention. All focus is on the actual content being developed.

One of the most important functions any piece of software can have is its search function. Microsoft improved Visual Studio’s search function to look through commands, configuration options, tool windows, and open files to find search terms. Another complaint from previous versions of Visual Studio was how many windows had to be opened to complete any one project. Microsoft has dubbed this improvement “workflow hubs” to make all common tasks able to be completed (for the most part) in only one window.

And finally, what I think might be one of the coolest improvements, Microsoft has integrated preview tabs within Visual Studio. Now, developers can test their code without having to open numerous other documents or browser windows (theoretically).

“What about .NET Framework 4.5 beta?” you may be asking. Here’s a rundown of the major changes that Microsoft hopes will make the .NET Framework entice even more developers to choose to work with Windows:

New support has been added for the Visual Basic and C# programming languages. Programmers can now write asynchronous code without extra help. The company’s press release claims it’s now as easy to write asynchronous code in the .NET Framework as it is to write synchronous code.

Performance has been improved via an overhaul of the Common Language Runtime. Now server applications and services should run faster and more smoothly than ever. Microsoft achieved this by adding background server garbage collection, multi-core background JIT compilation and profile-guided optimization.

Finally, the new iteration of the framework improves its networking capabilities by adding more support for networking libraries. In addition to what the previous version of .NET supported, the software now also supports modern HTTP libraries, WebSockets, and more.

Hopefully by the time beta testers work out all of the flubs, the new .NET Framework will deliver all the improved performance and functionality that Microsoft claims it does. If you’re not already using a Windows server, check out our .NET hosting products to see what .NET 4.0 is like and to get ready for the .NET Framework 4.5 support that will be coming after the official Framework 4.5 release.