MSDN and You

Someone from our team, the Mobile and Embedded User Assistance team, came back from a customer visit with the sad news that the developers there had never heard of MSDN, or those that had heard of it were under the impression it was something too expensive to consider. Clearly we have a problem communicating what MSDN is about.


Rather than give you the marketing spiel, let me just point out that we publish all the docs we write on mobile device development to MSDN: which means they appear on the MSDN website, which is completely free to access. In fact, this is currently the only way you can get the most up to date docs, so if you haven't already, you need to add this site:


to your favourites.


"But", I pretend to hear you cry, "I hate accessing docs through a web site, and why should I, when I have a perfectly good Help system built into Visual Studio 2005?"


Excellent point. The good news is that you can configure the Visual Studio 2005 Help system to automatically go online to MSDN and use that as the source for your documentation. From the Tools menu, select Options, and Help and the Online node. There you can configure the help system to use MSDN Online first, and local help second.


If you haven't installed any help during the Visual Studio 2005 install, then your Index and Contents will still appear rather empty. I found the best way to get to the docs in that situation was to use Search, and make sure I was looking at the MSDN results. Then, as I browsed through the results, and followed links, I click the "Add to Favourites" icon, and create my own up-to-date help collection.


Now, as for MSDN being expensive.. There does exist something called the "MSDN Quarterly", which is, more or less, a snapshot of the MSDN online help that is available on DVDs and which you can install locally to update any existing documentation. This is something that is provided as part of an MSDN Subscription, and that is something that you do need to sign up and pay for. You can check out all the different levels of subscription by searching on, say, Amazon for MSDN. Yeah, I'll bet you never knew that Amazon sold MSDN subs, did you?


For Mobile devices, we're a bit behind on getting our docs into the MSDN Quarterly, but we'll catch up during 2006. In the meantime, for the latest docs, go to MSDN Online. You will always find the latest docs on MSDN Online.

What if you don't have a fast internet connection, or you want to view docs on the road? We're working on it.