Microsoft adds Windows 8 Desktop support to Visual Studio 2012 Express

Microsoft adds Windows 8 Desktop support to Visual Studio 2012 Express

Summary: The free Express version of Microsoft's Visual Studio 2012 tool suite will allow developers to build more than just Metro-Style, Win RT-based apps for Windows 8.

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TOPICS: Windows
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The team building the next release of Visual Studio has responded to developer criticism and is adding support for building Windows 8 Desktop apps to VS 2012 Express.

Last month, there was quite a bit of developer outcry when Microsoft officials revealed the decision to limit Visual Studio 2012 Express -- the free, entry level version of its product -- to development of Windows 8 Metro-Style, Win RT-based apps only. "No-cost desktop software development is dead on Windows 8," wrote Ars Technica at the time of the announcement.

"If you want to develop desktop applications — anything that runs at the command line or on the conventional Windows desktop that remains a fully supported, integral, essential part of Windows 8 — you'll have two options: stick with the current Visual C++ 2010 Express and Visual C# 2010 Express products, or pay about $400-500 for Visual Studio 11 Professional," said Ars' Peter Bright.

Microsoft rolled out its system requirements for Visual Studio 2012 SKUs in late May. At that time, the company said there would be free Express SKUs for Windows 8 Metro Windows Phone and Windows Azure, but not Windows 8 Desktop.

In a June 8 post to the Microsoft Visual Studio blog, Corporate Vice President Soma Somasegar notified developers of the change:

"(W)e heard from our community that developers want to have for Windows desktop development the same great experience and access to the latest Visual Studio 2012 features at the Express level.

"Today, I’m happy to announce that we will add Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop to the Visual Studio 2012 family. This will bring to the Visual Studio Express family significant new capabilities that we’ve made available in Visual Studio 2012 for building great desktop applications."

The Visual Studio Express for Windows Desktop SKU will allow developers to use C++, C# or Visual Basic to create Windows desktop and console apps, Somasegar said.

He also confirmed that Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop will be available this fall, the same time that Windows 8 is expected to be generally available. Update: As Ars' Bright noted, though, the Desktop version of VS 2012 Express will not RTM when the rest of Visual Studio 2012 does; it will be later. (Fall is also the same time that Microsoft may hold its Build 2.0 conference, according to some of my tipsters. October could be a busy month....)

Today isn't the first time the Visual Studio team has changed direction as a result of feedback from the testing community. Recently, the team altered the look and feel of Visual Studio 2012 in response to push back from those unhappy with the color scheme and other UI elements in the Visual Studio 2012 Beta release.

Topic: Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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32 comments
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  • Great

    Good to know they are responsive to what the community asks.
    Jeff Kibuule
    • Would they have done this without pressure?

      NOT

      It was only a couple of weeks ago I was debating with the Windows fanboys about the greed price ($400-500) that they so brainlessly and slavishly defended.

      Now their own masters have turned against them. Watch them quickly change their tune. lol... :D
      ScorpioBlack
      • .

        Uhm, Visual Studio 2012 Express is free.
        statuskwo5
      • Likely not...

        ..however, ironically unlike many freelance open source developers, Microsoft has significant incentive to listen when the community wheel squeaks.

        "Now their own masters have turned against them. Watch them quickly change their tune. lol..."

        Or just watch you keep spouting the same nonsense like some kind of psychotic parrot.
        daftkey
      • Likely YES

        [i]..however, ironically unlike many freelance open source developers, Microsoft has significant incentive to listen when the community wheel squeaks.[/i]

        Well they don't seem to be listening over the Windows 8 start menu, now are they.

        And soft-pedal it all you want, had their been no pressure the fee would have remained in place.

        [i]Or just watch you keep spouting the same nonsense like some kind of psychotic parrot.[/i]

        Works pretty well since I get jerks like you to respond. ;)
        ScorpioBlack
      • @Scorpio - well now you're just being contrarian...

        ..when I was saying "likely not" it was in response to your own question of whether MS would have made the change without pressure.. I know you're just trolling for a response, but at least try to keep up, okay?

        "Well they don't seem to be listening over the Windows 8 start menu, now are they."

        Listening to who? You? There is a hell of a lot more doubt about the opinion of Windows core customer base over the Start menu than developers over the inclusion of Win 32 development classes in Visual Studio Express. It would be hard to tell if Microsoft were listening, because at best the most you can say is that a very vocal subgroup of tech pundits and commenters (half of whom seem to admittedly not use Windows in the first place, so already exclude themselves from the overall population of affected customers) disapprove of the new Start menu.

        "And soft-pedal it all you want, had their been no pressure the fee would have remained in place. "

        Again, my response to your question was "Not Likely".. I don't think I was disagreeing with you. I'm also not sure who is "soft-pedal"-ing here; by saying Microsoft "removed the $500 fee", you seem to be insinuating that Microsoft has either discontinued the professional version of Visual Studio or has started offering it for free, neither of which is true.
        daftkey
  • Alienating Developers

    I don't think Microsoft can afford to alienate developers, so I'm also glad to see them responding to the community dissatisfaction over their planned restrictive release of the Express edition.
    dvanderwerken
  • fuss about nothing!

    The community won't touch the free VS with a 12 foot pole!
    VS2012, free or paid has no audience in the era of FOSS!
    The Linux Geek
    • Hahaha

      Thanks for the laugh.

      Good to see Vs2012 express will be usable to develop win32 apps.
      sjaak327
    • damn

      I wanted to vote you down but I pressed the wrong button by mistake.

      anyway, please just shut up. I know you have your opinions however this is about windows and visual studio and how Microsoft is catering to THEIR audience. this has nothing to do with FOSS.
      blazing_smiley_face
    • Then I guess "the community" had nothing to complain about...

      "The community won't touch the free VS with a 12 foot pole!
      VS2012, free or paid has no audience in the era of FOSS! "

      Well, considering the stink "the community" raised when Microsoft revealed their original plan not to allow Win32 development on VS Express, I'm thinking either you're being a bit of an idiot or "the community" just likes to find reason to complain whenever a software company dares charge for their products.

      Of course, the real answer, as always, is "both".
      daftkey
  • Great!

    Now can we please have our standalone version of Lightswitch back too please!?!
    Joe_Raby
    • Lightswitch Standalone

      Amen...we use Lightswitch in our Small Business and we want the new version without buying the full version.
      wolters@...
      • What business would that be...?

        "Amen...we use Lightswitch in our Small Business and we want the new version without buying the full version. "

        I have some development work that needs done. You're going to do it for free, right?
        daftkey
      • What's your concern?

        [i]I have some development work that needs done. You're going to do it for free, right?[/i]

        Aww, bitter that they caved in? That developers who give their programs away for free don't have to pay the $400-500 now?

        It's not money out your pocket. Or is it? ;)
        ScorpioBlack
  • There's Hope

    There's hope then that they'll put the Start button back on the taskbar too!!!

    Not really. I guess 97% negative feedback is insufficient, needed one more percentage point. Doh! so close!
    JohnMorgan3
  • Alternatives

    This is good news to be sure. However, it's not like alternatives don't exist in the Windows ecosystem.

    When I develop on Windows in C++ I use the Code::Blocks IDE and then I use TDM-GCC as the underlying compiler toolchain. C::B is cross-platform so I use it as well under Linux, and TDM-GCC is a port of the venerable GNU Compiler Collection to Windows. If you search for MinGW you'll find many different ports of GCC to Windows. They come with all the header files and others required to build native Windows applications so they aren't gimped when on that platform.

    C::B will even use the Microsoft compiler toolchain if you have a special need for it like MFC. Bringing a free C++ environment to the latest version of Windows is commendable for Microsoft as a turn-around. Good for them.

    Edit, adding some links:

    Code::Blocks
    http://sourceforge.net/projects/codeblocks/

    TDM-GCC
    http://tdm-gcc.tdragon.net/

    Edit 2, forgot to mention: The MFC classes? Microsoft Foundation Classes have historically only been part of the paid versions of Visual Studio as well. Hopefully this will change with this newest version as they are required to build some projects, notably Doom 3. Although for that work is being done to rebase the code onto SDL now that it's open-source. Once that is done Doom 3 will be much more portable.
    BP314
    • I'm sure there will always be features reserved for the "paid-for" versions

      "Microsoft Foundation Classes have historically only been part of the paid versions of Visual Studio as well. Hopefully this will change with this newest version as they are required to build some projects, notably Doom 3."

      If Microsoft makes available traditionally "paid-for" functionality, it will be because they see some value in doing so. I'm not sure that it will happen just because there happens to be certain projects that are complex and rely on these building blocks suddenly becoming open source.

      If a feature is of sufficient value that it improves your time-to-delivery of a program, it's likely going to be a paid feature, unless Microsoft has enough pressure to do otherwise.
      daftkey
      • @daftkey

        MFC used to be free. You could get them as part of the Windows SDK - just a compiler and lots and lots of library headers and such. You still can get a very old copy of MFC from a very old Windows SDK. Then Microsoft eventually folded new versions of MFC into the paid version of Visual Studio. That's a shame because when your platform is Windows those classes are nice.

        As a side note, I'm not detracting from Visual Studio: it's one darn fine piece of software. My original post is just pointing out that it's not the only game in town. Code::Blocks is also right up there with Visual Studio. Visual Studio is a bit better but it's Windows only. Code::Blocks is almost as good, and for myself, it's cross-platform.
        BP314
      • Agreed...

        "As a side note, I'm not detracting from Visual Studio: it's one darn fine piece of software. My original post is just pointing out that it's not the only game in town. Code::Blocks is also right up there with Visual Studio. Visual Studio is a bit better but it's Windows only. Code::Blocks is almost as good, and for myself, it's cross-platform. "

        I completely agree on both accounts (that VS is a good platform, and that there are other good platforms as well).

        Whether Microsoft charges for certain classes or features or not, the decision to pay for the "pro" version of Visual Studio should always be a question of whether the extra features will be worth it or not. For most programmers, the $500 or so that Microsoft charges is recouped very, very quickly on increased productivity alone.

        If you're doing most of your work pro-bono or you see some kind of ethical conflict with building a "free" code base in a compiler or library that you may one day have to pay for, you probably shouldn't be using Visual Studio in the first place, and indeed, there's very little reason to.
        daftkey