But their real question was about "where is Visual C++ going beyond VC++ 2008," and in particular whether we will continue to invest in the C++ compilers and native libraries, support new native and managed facilities like XAML via C++, and so on.
Now I can point to an answer that’s slightly more complete but also breaks some news: Our VP, Soma, blogged about this very topic this week. Here’s the key paragraph, some emphasis added:
This team will be significantly increasing support for native development tools. Central to this work is investigating ways to make C++ developers far more efficient in understanding, updating and validating the quality of large native code bases. In fact, the team is already working on a front-end rewrite that will allow for a vastly improved IntelliSense experience. This same work should pave the way for future enhancements such as refactoring and advanced source code analysis. In addition, the team intends to update the native libraries to simplify the development of rich-client user interfaces and access to underlying Windows platform innovation. The team will also work to provide “friction-free” interop between native & managed code through enhancements to C++/CLI and IJW.
From the comments section, Bill Dunlap from our VC++ group added some teasers, including (emphasis mine):
MFC – we are working on a huge update to MFC that should knock your socks off. I can’t tell you too much right now, but this is closer than you might [think] <g>.
The Visual C++ "front-end rewrite" Soma mentions is indeed well under way, and one of the big benefits will be that it will make the compiler much more flexible (dare I say "agile"?) for us to work with and add features, including C++0x features. We’ll be able to say more about the new compiler and report progress in the coming year or two as it turns into real product you can see and touch.
[8:55am: updated to add Bill Dunlap’s comments and edit the last paragraph]