<UPDATE: May 16, 2008> Scott Guthrie and his team picked up on this post. They have since verified and logged the issue mentioned below.</UPDATE>
Last Friday, Microsoft released a beta of the upcoming Visual Studio Service Pack 1. Check out Scott Guthrie's post for a list of improvements and features included in the service pack. You can also find links to download the service pack in his post. Here is a short overview of what's included in the VS2008 SP1 beta:
"Visual Studio 2008 SP1 delivers various improvements to Visual Studio 2008 such as support SQL Server 2008 and new ADO.NET features such as the Entity Framework, numerous improvements to the WPF designers, WCF Templates for Silverlight projects, debugger support for the .NET Framework public symbols and source release, control improvements and additions (such as the DataRepeater for Windows Forms and Office 2007 Ribbons for C++), and a number of general debugging and Intellisense updates. This Service Pack also includes fixes to improve the stability, performance and security of many areas of the product."
The last sentence, which I highlighted in bold, is probably what's most interesting about the SP1 beta. Many of you have been waiting for such a release to address the issues in Visual Studio 2008. And while it does offer improvements, you should be aware that this is a beta release. For example, after installing the beta, you may need to run the ToolBoxCreator.exe to re-register our controls within VS2008. You can run this utility from the Start Menu under the Developer Express/Tools folder.
For a small test I recreated the ASPxGridView's Detail Tabs demo page. The SP1 beta performed very well on my Sony Vaio laptop. The initial load times still may not be as impressive as running VS2008 on a quad-core cpu desktop machine with fast hard drives but there are noticeable improvements. However, there were some glitches. When switching the ASPX page to the designer view, VS2008 generates several extra entity spaces (nbsp) within the templates section. The extra items then make the project fail to compile. This can fixed by going back to the source view and removing the extra html.
This service pack has some improvements, but it's definitely a beta release. Don't use it to compile any mission critical code. If are looking to increase performance for Visual Studio then consider a faster hard drive. Scott Guthrie outlines why hard drive speed matters for visual studio performance. He also lists some other performance recommendations which could improve your experience within Visual Studio 2008.
If you do try the VS2008 SP1 beta then I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment and let me know how it works for you if you try it. I love to hear about life on the cutting edge!