Microsoft's complete programming/development environment, basically consisting of a bundle of all their development products.
The current release is Visual Studio .NET (hereafter known as VS.NET), previous releases have been Visual Studio 97 (VS97) and Visual Studio 6.0 (VS6).
VS97 was available in three editions, Learning, Professional and Enterprise, VS6 dropped the Learning edition (as far as I can tell), and Visual Studio .NET is available in three different editions, Professional, Enterprise Developer and Enterprise Architect.
It consists of the following products, of the relevant editions (eg, the Professional edition of Visual Studio would include the Professional edition of the individual products):
- Visual C++, a C++ development environment (VS97 included version 5, VS6 included version 6, VS.NET includes the .NET edition)
- Visual Basic, a visual RAD tool based on BASIC (ditto, you might want to note that it is substantially reworked in .NET)
- Visual FoxPro, a visual version of FoxPro, a database product (ditto, except it is not included with VS.NET, but is still available as a seperate product)
- Visual J++, a Java development environment (VS97 included version 1.1, VS6 included version 6, and it is not included with VS.NET as Microsoft no longer support or encourage Java development)
- Visual InterDev, a tool for building websites (VS97 included version 1.1, VS6 included version 6, VS.NET includes the .NET edition)
- Visual C#, a C# development environment (only included in VS.NET, which (obviously) includes the .NET edition)
- Visual SourceSafe, a revision management tool (only in Enterprise editions)
The Professional edition of Visual Studio 6 included MSDE, a cut-down version of SQL Server.
VS97 included Developer Editions of SQL Server (version 6.5) and Transaction Server and VS6 included BackOffice 4.5 (which included the majority of Microsoft's server products at the time), while the Enterprise edition of VS.NET contains the developer editions of the following additional products:
VS97 had Visual C++, Visual J++ and Visual InterDev sharing the same IDE (which was integrated with Visual SourceSafe), VS6 had all products except Visual C++ sharing a new IDE, whereas VS.NET combines all products into a single IDE.
All versions of VS.NET make heavy use of XML, and indeed VS.NET is much more orientated towards web-based solutions. VS.NET Enterprise Architect edition includes Visio-based tools, involving UML, to ease the production and implemention of application designs.
sources: my Visual Studio CDs, www.microsoft.com (which is incredibly hard to navigate at times), various magazines. please /msg me corrections.