Earlier this year, Microsoft sent out the debut preview of Visual Studio Codespaces, which was essentially a rebranding of Visual Studio Online. VS Online was introduced for the first time at Ignite 2019, bringing components of Visual Studio to web browsers. However, Microsoft has already decided to send Visual Studio Codespaces into the sunset.
According to the company, it is killing off the online version of Visual Studio before it has even left preview.
With Visual Studio Online (Codespaces), users have a web-based companion to the full VS experience. They can access code and edit it from any device, including smartphones. With Codespaces, Microsoft added the ability to work with extensions, access a command line, edit, run, and debug apps, and see Git repos.
So, why is Microsoft killing off what is for all intents and purposes a useful addition to the Visual Studio family? Well, it's not as bad as it first seems because Microsoft says it is folding all Visual Studio Codespaces features into GitHub Codespaces.
If you're unfamiliar with GitHub Codespaces, it too was launched earlier this year. Users can tap into GitHub Codespaces through a browser-like variant of the Visual Studio Code editor. In this editor, users can work with terminal access, extensions, and other tools. Furthermore, dev's can use the Codespaces feature directly from their IDE.
Microsoft clearly does not want two separate services with the Codespaces name. To remedy this, the company is simply combining the two. All VS Codespaces features will be transitioning to GitHub Codespaces, so there should be no gap in functionality. It is worth noting GitHub Codespaces is also in public beta preview.
“After the GitHub-native experience was released, we started hearing that the two distinct experiences were causing confusion amongst our users… We believe that by consolidating the current Codespaces experiences into one, we can eliminate confusion, simplify the experience for everyone, and make more rapid progress to address customer feedback.”
Microsoft has the following timeline in place to end the VS Codespaces preview and move to GitHub Codespaces:
- September 4, 2020 – Current users can begin transitioning to the GitHub private beta.
- November 20, 2020 – Creation of new plans and codespaces will be disabled, although existing codespaces may continue to be used. New users will only be able to sign up for Codespaces on GitHub.
- February 17, 2021 – The Visual Studio Codespaces portal will be retired. All plans and codespaces remaining in the service will be deleted.
From February 17, the VS Codespaces services will be shuttered permanently and all related portals deleted.