Changing the news feed in Visual Studio 2008

Visual Studio 2008's Start Page by default includes a news feed, providing ideas on usage of Visual Studio, information on new versions, etc. You probably have the Visual Basic or Visual C# News Feed enabled. Effective April 19, 2012, the VB and VC# news feeds that were enabled when you installed VS 2008 have been "deprecated," which is to say that they have been shut down, and no new articles are being posted.

The instructions to change the news feed tell you to select Options from the Tools menu, then expand the Environment group to select Startup options. Unfortunately, depending on how you installed VS 2008, the Environment options group may not be visible. No instructions are provided on how to make the Environment group visible. However, you can change the news feed setting to the new Visual Basic/Visual C# Headlines news feed by creating a .vssettings file and importing it. For VB, the file should contain the following lines:

                      	<ApplicationIdentity version="9.0"/>
                      		<ToolsOptionsCategory name="Environment" RegisteredName="Environment">
                      			<ToolsOptionsSubCategory name="Startup" RegisteredName="Startup" PackageName="Visual Studio Environment Package">
                      				<PropertyValue name="OnStartUp">5</PropertyValue>
                      				<PropertyValue name="StartPageRefreshDownloadedContent">true</PropertyValue>
                      				<PropertyValue name="StartPageRSSUrl"></PropertyValue>

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For the C# Headlines feed, replace the third Property Value line with:

				<PropertyValue name="StartPageRSSUrl"></PropertyValue>

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You can, of course, choose to display any other RSS feed; simply put the appropriate URL in this line.

Create this file with a text editor such as Notepad, with the file extension .vssettings (such as "VBHeadlines.vssettings"). The preferred location for this file is My Documents\Visual Studio 2008\Settings (assuming Visual Studio is set to use the default folder location).

To change the options:
1) From the Tools menu of Visual Studio, choose Import and Export Settings.

2) Choose Import Selected Environment Settings; click Next.

3) On the next screen, you can choose to save a backup copy of your current settings before making the changes, which will make it easy to recover your prior state if the import sets the settings the wrong way.

4) On the next screen, find the file you just created under My Settings (if you didn't save the file in the preferred location, click Browse and navigate to the correct folder).

5) The next screen shows which settings will be altered; in this case, just Options/Environment/Startup.

6) Click Finish, and the news feed is updated.

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