Microsoft launches Visual Studio Online, an online code editor

Microsoft today announced the private preview launch of Visual Studio Online, an online code editor the company is positioning as a companion to Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code.

The service is based on the Visual Studio Code, Microsoft’s popular free and open-source desktop code editor. This means Visual Studio Online will also support all the extensions that are currently available for Visual Studio Code, as well as popular features like Visual Studio Code workspaces. Support for IntelliCode, Microsoft’s tool for AI-assisted development that became generally available today, is also built-in.

The emphasis here is on Visual Studio Online being a “companion.” It’s not meant to become a developer’s default environment but instead as a way to make a quick edit, review a pull request or join a Live Share session.

And if you think the name Visual Studio Online sounds familiar, that’s because Microsoft is actually recycling this name. Not that long ago, Visual Studio Online was Microsoft’s hub for all things DevOps, before DevOps was a buzzword. Last year, the company renamed it to Azure DevOps, leaving the name open for other uses. Frankly, given the name, a lot of people probably always assumed that Visual Studio Online was a web-based version of the integrated development environment, only to be then disappointed that it wasn’t.

It’s worth noting that if you don’t want to wait for Microsoft to open the private preview to more users, there are also startups like Coder that can provide you with a remote Visual Studio Code environment.