During its Connect developer conference, Microsoft took to the stage to officially announce both the Visual Studio 2017 Release Candidate and Visual Studio for Mac. Previously, Microsoft referred to Visual Studio 2017 simply as Visual Studio 15 while in preview mode. The new name and move to release candidate status signal that the update is fairly close to release.

As for what developers will find in the Visual Studio Release Candidate, there's a ton to look forward to — a lot of which is covered in the embedded video above. Of particular note is that Microsoft is making it easier to build and test mobile applications. Microsoft explains:

Visual Studio makes it easy to use your existing skills in C#, JavaScript, and C++ to build mobile application for Android, iOS, and Windows devices. If you are a C++ or JavaScript developer, you can use Cordova or Ionic to build sharable code. For C# apps you can use Xamarin for up to 80% code sharing when building native apps.

The biggest challenge in mobile development is testing. Both creating and running the tests against a large variety of real devices to ensure your app will work well a majority of your customers, if not all. Visual Studio 2017's mobile test recorder makes it easy to record the actions you want to test. You can upload your tests to the Xamarin Test Cloud in one click where you can run them against thousands of real devices in the cloud.

Aside from easier mobile development, Microsoft has made many more tweaks and additions that are meant to boost productivity, streamline cloud developments and more across the board. For a full look, be sure to check out Visual Studio 2017 RC's full release notes, which also show off a new installation experience. The release candidate is also available for download.

Visual Studio Mac

On top of Visual Studio 2017 RC, Microsoft also took the wraps off of Visual Studio for Mac. We previously caught wind that this was coming, but Microsoft has now made it official. As you might expect, Visual Studio for Mac combines what makes Microsoft's IDE great, but built to fit in with the MacOS environment. From Microsoft:

Both C# and F# are supported out of the box and our project templates provide developers with a skeleton that embodies the best practices to share code across mobile front ends and your backend. Our new Connected Application template gives you both your Android and iOS front ends, as well as its complementary .NET Core-powered backend.

Once you're up and running, you'll find the same Roslyn-powered compiler, IntelliSense code completion, and refactoring experience you would expect from a Visual Studio IDE. And, since Visual Studio for Mac uses the same MSBuild solution and project format as Visual Studio, developers working on Mac and Windows can share projects across Mac and Windows transparently.

Visual Studio for Mac is now available as a preview, and can be downloaded now for developers to test.

Visual Studio Mobile Center

Lastly, Microsoft took the wraps off of Visual Studio Mobile Center, which the company calls "mission control for your mobile apps." Essentially, Mobile Center is a set of cloude services that let you easily track and manage various aspects of your mobile apps. You can get valuable telemetry, monitor for crashes and bugs, check out analytics and much more right from Mobile Center. Visual Studio Mobile Center is also available to try now as a preview.

If you're a developer interested in catching up with everything from Microsoft's Connect developer conference, be sure to follow along at the MSDN Connect page for all of the announcements.