While I was hoping that VS 2010 would just install itself as soon as I downloaded the bits, they haven’t quite gotten that feature working just yet. I guess the team had to leave themselves something to do in the next version. I grabbed the new Ultimate edition as that replaces the Team Suite.

The new icon is nice looking and I really appreciate that the installation no longer shows the endless revolving view of excited “developers” using Visual Studio. In all, the install experience is just waiting but a few things I did notice that were nice. With the Ultimate edition, there’s no way to uninstall the Team Tools such as the profilers and the IntelliTrace (the renamed Historical Debugging feature). I guess with Ultimate Microsoft is assuming that you’re doing the install because you want everything. It was also very nice to see that the C++ x64 compilers are now part of the install by default as well.

The end of the installation is where you now install the product help.

After clicking on the glowing gel button, you get to the Help Manager, which I didn’t find that intuitive.

I couldn’t understand why the Update button was not enabled. Silly me, I figured since the Actions said Add, that was the default. To get the default documentation, you have to click on each of those “Add” links. Personally, I think the action text should say “Install” and the Status text should be “not installed” to make it obvious.

After installing the three sections, which are included on the Visual Studio install DVD, you’ll get to the Help Library Manager main screen.

The new help system is similar to Visual Studio 2008 in that it will use the online help by default if it can’t find things locally. While that’s nice, it will always be massively faster to have help locally because a disk access will always beat a network access by a few orders of magnitude. Additionally, I always seem to be working in locations that don’t have network access so I want as all the help on locally on my hard disk.

Since the Visual Studio install DVD only has the VS, VSTS, and Win32 help, you’ll want to add all the other help you’ll need to click on the “Check for updates online” link in the Help Library Manager. After spinning around a while, I got the report of a bunch of packages that were online and ready to download. (I forgot to write down the total.)

Do you see the problem on this page? There’s no way to do an “add all” so you get to manually click on each of those bunch of Add links. Once I clicked all of them, there was 3576 MB of help to add (I did write that number down). Again, you might not need to add all of these, but I work on many different kinds of projects and want all the help locally for speed and those times when I don’t have an internet connection.

The core install of Visual Studio Ultimate with the three included help packages took approximately 50 minutes when booting from a VHD running Win 7 x64 using an SSD as the physical device. Including the full help download time, it was approximately 110 minutes total. Hopefully these times will get much shorter for the RTM.

I do greatly appreciate what the help team is trying to accomplish by offering a way to get the latest documentation on our machines by simply going into the Help Library Manager and doing an update. I hope it’s just a beta thing that they don’t have a downloadable package of all the help documentation. You can only imagine how long it will take for each developer with multiple machines to get all the help downloaded. I can only imagine how long the help download will take in places like South Africa that don’t have good pipes to the internet.