What is WinC++ and how does it figure in Microsoft's bid to make tools a $2 billion business?

What is WinC++ and how does it figure in Microsoft's bid to make tools a $2 billion business?

Summary: Microsoft is putting some muscle behind its C++ products and strategy with the coming WinC++. Here are some bits and pieces I've unearthed so far about what's going on.


As the dust from this week's Server and Tools Business reorg inside Microsoft is starting to settle, it's time to move from looking at the "who's" to start looking at the "why's" and "how's."

Why did the Microsoft brass decide to move Microsoft's developer marketing and evangelism under Developer Division chief Soma Somasegar?

"Microsoft has an enormous relevancy issue with developers," said one of my contacts familiar with Microsoft's thinking. Some just-leaked Hewlett-Packard public-cloud strategy information -- with its emphasis on Java, Ruby and "open source languages" -- brings this point home. While C#, C++ and Visual Basic still have their advocates, non-Microsoft-backed languages like Java, Ruby, Python, PHP and Objective-C are holding their own, growing as fast, if not faster.

From Somasegar's own reorg e-mail to the STB organization, it's clear that there's pressure to grow the Visual Studio business from its current $1-billion-plus size to $2 billion. (Visual Studio is one of a handful of Microsoft businesses, beyond Windows and Office, that have crossed the $1 billion threshhold already.)

How is Microsoft planning to do grow beyond its established developer base?

One way seems to be to put some muscle behind the company's native dev tools, like Visual C++. I noticed a brief mention in Somasegar's e-mail of "WinC++." It turns out that the new name for Visual C++ is going to be WinC++ -- something confirmed by a Microsoft job posting which mentions the "Windows C++ a.k.a. Visual C++ team."

I wondered: Is WinC++ nothing more than a new (and obviously Windows-centric name) for an old compiler?

It seems from another Microsoft job posting that Microsoft is really pushing the idea that C++ will be key to building applications for the coming version of Windows. From that posting for a Program Manager for WinC++:

"Are you excited about the new possibilities that the Windows platforms unlocks for applications? Do you want to connect with and encourage C++ developers across the globe to build cutting edge, unique Windows experiences?"

(The Windows emphasis reminds me of what the Internet Explorer team is doing, with its growing emphasis on how IE 9 is better/faster because it is optimized to take advantage of Windows 7 and beyond. It seems like the team plans to do the same with IE 10, with its "now with more native HTML" messaging that will point back to Windows 8 as the great enabler.)

Next question: Will Microsoft do more than just rename its C++ product and actually bring new C++ functionality to the table with the next version of its Visual Studio suite, expected to be called Visual Studio 2012? The answer seems to be yes.

From another Microsoft job description that mentions WinC++:

"Do you want to help developers create applications in C++ for the next version of Windows? Do you want to dig into a new version of COM (Component Object Model) and create content that shows off its capabilities? Do you want to write about new programming models for the next version of Windows?"...

"The team is engaged in a number of aggressive investments in C++ language innovations and native code development targeting very large and complex development projects. It is also working on technologies to enable C++ developers to have a rich development environment by making the IDE (integrated development environment) more scalable, easy to use, and most importantly agile to accommodate what modern C++ developers need. These investments will directly influence nearly all Microsoft software products as well as many top-tier ISVs. We are embarking on some very ambitious and impactful features on several fronts, including language and code generation innovations."

Another Microsoft WinC++-related job post mentions "new developments in C++ and COM that are releasing with Visual Studio, as well as writing about additions to existing C++ libraries, such as the Standard Template Library."

Here are a few other possibly related observations:

* Microsoft's Channel 9 team has been posting more content lately about C++. * As part of Microsoft's Server and Tools reorg this week, Microsoft moved the Parallel Computing and Tools team (headed by Steve Teixeira, David Callahan and Shahrokh Mortazavi to "a combined WinC++, PCP (parallel and/or high-performance computing project?), and UX organization under Mohsen (Agsen)." Agsen is a Technical Fellow currently working in the developer division, who has been instrumental in COM+ and the Common Language Runtime. (He is talking about a "C++ renaissance" in this February 2011 Channel 9 interview.) * The Microsoft "Jupiter" Windows 8 development environment about which I blogged earlier this year, seems to have something to do with "XAML plus native code." C++ was one of the languages possibly slated to be supported by Jupiter. *Maybe there's a connection with Windows Embedded Compact 7 (and any phones/slates that make use of this platform), as well, given the C++/XAML support in that operating system.

I'm curious if any of you developers out there have any observations, guesses or wish lists to share that might shed light on what Microsoft is doing here? What do you make of this WinC++ talk? What else would you like to see in Visual Studio 2012?

Topics: Software Development, CXO, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows


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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  • RE: What is WinC and how does it figure in Microsoft's bid to make tools a $2 billion business?

    If MS really wants to make a larger market, they should make their next gen WinC++ universal and frankly do a better job of integrating their other existing Windows technologies into the language / runtime environment (and ideally for other non-MS platforms as well).

    In my organization, we try and do everything cross platform (Linux, Windows) so making WinC++ (aka Visual Studio 2012) available to BOTH development types would be great. It makes little sense to use C# when I may have to run a code base under Linux or vice versa some day.... I personally like Visual Studio and would happily use it on other platforms if it were available there. So, why not offer WinC++ to professional Linux or even Mac OSX developers as well (64-bit, 32-bit) along with of course Windows 2008 R2 / Windows 7 (32-bit, 64-bit variants) and beyond? Now, that would be interesting!
    • Or will there be MacC , LinC since MS goes away from universality?

      • LOL! Apple interacting with others?

        @denisrs <br>Mac development tools aren't really even a consideration here.
        Bill Pharaoh
      • &quot;LOL!&quot; I meant Microsoft releasing these tools separately ;)))

        @Bill Pharaoh
      • At this point in time, it's the opposite...

        @Bill Pharaoh:
        Apple has no need to interact with others on the mobile side. They are on the driver's seat. Microsoft, on the other hand, needs to stop auto-reducing it's market share.

        Last time I tried to start developing for Windows Phone 7 I hit ground as the VS addon only works on Windows Vista and 7. Same for IE9.

        If they release WinC++ only for Win 7 upwards, they will stumble and <b>reduce</b> market share rather than increase.
    • RE: What is WinC and how does it figure in Microsoft's bid to make tools a $2 billion business?

      @jarchca - if you want to write code in C# that's cross platform, you should examine Mono which now runs on Linux, Android and OSX, and MonoTouch which provides comprehensive CLR support for iOS' features.

      Microsoft should NOT waste their time creating development tools for alternative platforms over which they have little influence and from which they derive little/no revenue.

      They should dedicate their considerable focus on making Windows the absolute best development environment, for both managed as well as native developers, and should provide a comprehensive app marketplace spanning server/desktop, laptop, tablet and phone scenarios.
      • RE: What is WinC and how does it figure in Microsoft's bid to make tools a $2 billion business?


        Mono would be a consideration if it's future wasn't in doubt. Attachmate just dropped a lot of Mono devs, which doesn't bode well. Plus, just like Java, C#/Mono is controlled by a commercial company, and that makes it's future uncertain. MS ignores Mono right now, but they may have a change of heart, when/if they get bought.

        With that being said, I'd really like MS to take an interest in creating a healthy C# platform for FOSS OSes. C# isn't a bad language, and I would like to be able to work cross-platform.
    • Please, no


      MS technologies should reinforce each other, and draw new users and new developers into its ecosystem. Visual Studio (VS) in conjunction with Windows, should allow for the innovation of new / better user experiences, drawing more users onto the platform, which should in turn draw more developers onto the platform. Stated another way: Windows and VS should specifically feed / support one another, creating an ever expanding ecosystem vortex. If third parties want to allow developers to target other platforms with Visual Studio, that is fine. MS' preoccupation however should be the support and growth of its own ecosystem.

      MS targeting other platforms (evenly) with VS, undermines its own platform, by reducing the advantages of Windows development, over software development on other platforms. Having e.g. VS targeting the web is fine, if VS cranks out fairly decent solutions; VS however should at the same time crank out breath taking solutions on Windows, that offer developers and content providers much better opportunities to make money, and businesses, much better opportunities to create engaging and superior solutions. People should ideally look at web based and Windows based solutions (created e.g. using VS) and say, there is no contest.
      P. Douglas
      • RE: What is WinC and how does it figure in Microsoft's bid to make tools a $2 billion business?

        @P. Douglas

        MS has so many different product lines now I think it's impossible for one area of the business not to damage some other area as it expands. The best way forward is probably to offer as much as they can and let the market sort it out.
      • agreed, but..

        @P. Douglas
        I totally agree with you, and MS does too, in principle. The practical problem is - how much better can desktop GUI experiences be? They can be prettier, maybe in 3D, but I find they are not getting more productive. Some of the most productive and useful software is not so pretty, and I have rediscoved the command line for many tasks, where it can be more appropriate. What does windows 7 have that windows XP doesn't. Maybe more security, and its prettier. It also requires much more RAM and CPU to run it. What does office 2010 have that 2003 doesn't. The ribbon, which 50/50 love/hate. Its the legacy document and application compatibility that keeps people tied to windows, but that will slowly fade away.
    • Never


      <cite>why not offer WinC++ to professional Linux or even Mac OSX developers as well</cite>

      That's exactly not the reason they are changing the name to WinC++. They are right now busier than ever thinking of ways to make people want to use windows only. Their business is completely opposite to cross platform, since windows sales is obviously the top source of revenue. They half-heartely push the html5, but only alongside the silly talk of "IE native HTML5".
      • But...

        If MS is really thinking of keeping Windows sales on top, they should give away development tools for free. Moreover, VS has become very bulky and taking more time to run an application (when compared to run a java application from a (free) eclipse, VS is horrible). IMO, MS should change strategies here.
  • Delphi - the other Win32/COM environment is easier and faster to develop

    The only other environment that supports pure Windows32/64 exes and COM is Delphi. In fact, there are many projects that need lots of COM/OLE Automation that are developed in Delphi. Even today we are able to develop very complex applications running into a few hundred thousand lines of code using Delphi. Many applications are around 1-2 mb in size. Even the larger ones can be compressed using UPX. Delphi, like WinC++, beats everything else for speed and compactness.
    • RE: What is WinC and how does it figure in Microsoft's bid to make tools a $2 billion business?

      @iRMX - I used to be a hardcore Delphi developer, but frankly, I find that today, Delphi has been left in the dust by C# and the CLR.
      • RE: What is WinC and how does it figure in Microsoft's bid to make tools a $2 billion business?

        @bitcrazed - interesting! The word h-a-r-d--c-o-r-e is now translated to ******** by ZDNet's "new" commenting system. Wow ... that was worth the upgrade. NOT.
      • RE: What is WinC and how does it figure in Microsoft's bid to make tools a $2 billion business?

        It has been that way for a while now. Talk about censorship, the word Hard core is not only referring to pornographic material but also can be used to describe many other aspects of life.
      • RE: What is WinC and how does it figure in Microsoft's bid to make tools a $2 billion business?

        The subject is about native development and delphi is more relevant than c# as the previous is an option for Windows native development. However, it would be more exciting if native c++ will have all the current ide features of its dotnet tools (c# and vb.net) plus all the modern language features. Delphi is facing a very tough competition then.
    • RE: What is WinC and how does it figure in Microsoft's bid to make tools a $2 billion business?

      @iRMX: at the current development pace, Delphi will support these new features around 2020, unless they took another dead-end (Kylix, Delphi.Net...) which will stall native Windows development for some more years. It has still to deliver a 64 bit compiler (and revamp the 32 bit one), and probably the xplat attempt will delay native Win development for a while. Delphi had a sound technology, but it became too slow to keep up to date with many actual needs.
      • RE: What is WinC and how does it figure in Microsoft's bid to make tools a $2 billion business?

        @cp@... Delphi 64 bit is in beta stage and you can apply for a beta. The update after that should be cross platform max & linux command line
    • RE: What is WinC and how does it figure in Microsoft's bid to make tools a $2 billion business?

      @iRMX My EXEs compiled with Delphi are over 14 MB.