Fulfilling its promise of delivering a more rapid release cycle for Visual Studio, Microsoft released Visual Studio 2013 less than one year after its last Visual Studio release. Microsoft announced the release to manufacturing (RTM) edition of Visual Studio 2013, Microsoft's premier development tool, on Oct 18, 2013. The release provides several significant enhancements, including support for Windows 8.1 development, enhanced application lifecycle management features, and several IDE and productivity enhancements. Here are some of the most important new features in Visual Studio 2013.

Related: Top New Features in Visual Studio 2012

IDE Enhancements

Some of the first things you'll notice about the new release are the updates to the IDE. Responding to the numerous complaints about the flat and mostly monochrome IDE in Visual Studio 2012, Microsoft modified more than 400 icons, intending to provide greater differentiation and increased use of color. The Visual Studio 2013 Start page was also redesigned.

New Productivity Features

Microsoft also added several new productivity features. These features include improved automatic bracket completion, the ability to move code lines and blocks of code using keyboard shortcuts, and new in-line navigation capabilities.

New Peek Definition Feature

The new Peek Definition feature is designed to give you more insight into your code. With Peek Definition, you can view a read-only definition of a method without leaving the context of your code in the IDE. To view the definition of a specific method, position your cursor on that method and press Alt+F12. The method definition will appear in a read-only popup window, or you can open it in a full window for editing.

New CodeLens Feature

Another productivity enhancement feature, CodeLens (originally called Code Information Indicators), was first introduced at TechEd 2013 in New Orleans. CodeLens feature provides useful information about the code you're working on. You can also see information such as references, test runs, and results for the selected method.

ASP.NET Project Consolidation

In an attempt to streamline ASP.NET development, Visual Studio 2013 uses a new ASP.NET model designed to unify your web application development experience. Visual Studio 2013 provides many ASP.NET web application project templates that include ASP.NET Web Forms, ASP.NET MVC, Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), and Web API services.

Support for Building Office 365 Applications

Another important new feature in Visual Studio 2013 is support for building Office 365 applications. Office 365 Cloud Business Apps run in the Windows Azure cloud platform.

New TypeScript Feature

TypeScript is a programming language with support for classes, modules, and interfaces that compiles down to JavaScript, allowing it to run on any browser. TypeScript is designed to bring enterprise-class development capabilities to JavaScript by providing rich static checking, symbol-based navigation, statement completion, and code refactoring.

Team Development Enhancements

To facilitate team development, Visual Studio 2013 comes with an updated Team Explorer, which provides an enhanced Home page with easier navigation and collaboration features. Team Explorer can undock the Pending Changes pane and the Builds pane into separate windows. Other new features include support for Git version control, new diagnostic logs, and a new Work Item Charting feature, that enables developers to rapidly create a variety of charts based on data from work item queries, bugs, and user reports.

You can find more information about the new features in Visual Studio 2013 at Microsoft's What's New in Visual Studio 2013 web page. For information about Visual Studio 2013 launch events, visit the Visual Studio Events web page.