Microsoft today announced the Visual Studio Ultimate feature pack, along with build-in-the-cloud functionality in Team Foundation Service and support in Visual Studio for teams working in SharePoint.

The Ultimate feature packs will ship as “an ongoing benefit” after Visual Studio 11 (currently in beta) is finalized and released, according to Jason Zander, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Visual Studio. The first feature pack will be centered on SharePoint Quality of Service Testing scenarios and on using IntelliTrace to debug code anywhere its run, Zander said in an interview with SD Times after his keynote address at the DevConnections conference.

For SharePoint, the areas of focus with this first pack are load testing—to make sure SharePoint can stand up to scale—and unit testing. Zander said the feature release will make it easier to author unit tests.

Further, he said, even before the first feature pack release, his team will be working on advanced diagnostic features and ways to allow users to customize what it is that IntelliTrace collects, such as a specific class, ASP.NET page or function.

As for the build-in-the-cloud capability, Zander explained that users “want the self-service aspect. It’s nice to just have a project and say, ‘Cloud, you deal with it.’ You don’t have to configure a machine.”

Build-in-the-cloud is performed with a pool of Azure virtual machine roles. “The cool thing about it is if you store your assets in a cloud repository, it’s there and ready to go,” Zander said. “For a feature update, you use the service and just do a check-in. The source code gets lifted into the cloud and automatically kicks off a build and executes tests. If it passes, the service checks in the build.”

In a blog post announcing the build-in-the-cloud technology, Microsoft’s Brian Harry explained that the default workflow supports unit-testing frameworks MSTest and the new native C++ unit-testing framework. Third-party frameworks such as xUnit and NUnit can also be used but require “a bit more configuration,” he wrote. Also, he noted that the Team Explorer Everywhere client, with support for Eclipse, also will support the build-in-the-cloud service.

“We’re trying to enable people to build continuous services,” Harry added. “If you’re going to be adding functionality and doing it in continuous fashion, you’ve got to make sure the quality is right. DevOps is a big part of that trend.” In the past, he said, “We concentrated on building software and throwing it over the way. That’s not optimal now. If I want to continuously provide software, there must be a loop of building software and deploying software that makes it happen really fast. That’s a huge theme for Visual Studio 11.”

The announcements keep Microsoft on the path of enabling quality and delivering what Zander called “a continuous flow of value.”

“We don’t want you to have to wait years between product cycles,” he said. “We’re communicating that you should expect to see this from us, more of a continuous feature flow.”

The Visual Studio 11 beta can be downloaded now, but there are as yet no available bits for the Ultimate feature pack announced today. The build-in-the-cloud functionality is enabled now as part of the Team Foundation Service preview.