Microsoft launches public preview of Visual Studio Online

Visual Studio Online offers remote access to development environments

Maika Möbus
Visual Studio Online
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At this week’s Microsoft Ignite developer conference, the first public preview of Visual Studio Online was introduced. The new cloud-based service allows users to create and access development environments from anywhere to encourage remote work and collaboration.

Visual Studio Online is a brand-new cloud service by Microsoft that was released in public preview mode. It enables users to create development environments that are hosted in Azure, but also supports connecting to on-prem environments free of charge. Let’s see what features the new service holds in store for us and how much it costs.


With its development environments hosted in Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio Online offers some cloud-benefits. You can create as many environments as are included in your subscription and gain access to additional CPU and RAM. The service is suited for CPU-intensive tasks in the fields of machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data.

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Visual Studio Online comes with Live Share built-in for real-time collaboration with team members who work remotely. The IntelliCode set is included for AI-assisted code recommendations. Visual Studio Online can be used for short-term tasks like pull request reviews or long-term projects alike.


The pricing for cloud-hosted environments in Visual Studio Online is based on consumed environment units. The calculation includes the environment’s instance size and active time as well as total lifetime, which is referred to as its base unit.

As an example, the cost per unit for one instance is $0.0036 in the US. The environments come with an auto-suspension function to avoid accidental costs. Additionally, users can connect their own self-hosted environments to Visual Studio Online for free.

Supported editors

Visual Studio Online comes with support for three editors out of the box, one of which is a browser-based editor. Microsoft offers a quickstart guide for using the editor. It works without installation and is powered by VS Code under the hood.

VS Code support is available via the free Visual Studio Online extension that offers debugging, task running, version control and more. The extension is available in the Visual Studio Code Code Marketplace.

SEE ALSO: VS Code 1.39: September release adds workbench and UI updates

The third supported editor is Visual Studio IDE, currently still in private preview mode. You can sign up to apply for the preview.

The announcement by Nik Molnar on the Visual Studio Blog offers further information on Visual Studio Online.

Maika Möbus
Maika Möbus has been an editor for Software & Support Media since January 2019. She studied Sociology at Goethe University Frankfurt and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.

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