Updated: Visual Studio 11 Express Tools Move Beyond the Windows Desktop
Microsoft announced its upcoming Visual Studio 11 lineup on Friday, and the free Express IDEs highlighted key changes in the company's strategy. Microsoft is moving away from the lightweight language-based IDEs, which debuted with Visual Studio 2005, towards free platform-centric tooling (Windows 8 Metro, Windows Phone and Windows Azure) with multiple language support.
While these moves may seem obvious in the wake of Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, Visual Web Developer 2010 Express (works with Azure SDK) and the Visual Studio 11 Express Beta for Windows 8 Metro-style apps—the bottom line is the free Express tools no longer target the desktop. Windows desktop app developers who want the latest tooling must purchase Visual Studio 11 Professional ($499 without an MSDN subscription) or higher.
You can still download and use the language editions of Visual Studio 2010 Express (Visual C#, Visual Basic, Visual C++) free of charge, according to Microsoft, but these IDEs target .NET 4 and Windows 7. Some apps may not be compatible with .NET 4.5, which is an in-place upgrade. Everything should work on Windows 8, however.
"VS Express 2010 does run on Windows 8," according to a Microsoft spokesman. "Apps created with VS Express 2010 run on Windows 8." (This is a correction provided by Microsoft. I indicated in my original blog that Visual Studio Express 2010 apps may not run on Windows 8.)
As a professional developer, why should the evolution of Microsoft's lightweight Express tools, reportedly aimed at hobbyists and students, matter to you? The company wants to populate the Windows Store and Windows Phone Marketplace, and perhaps free tools can help, especially when these markets remain unproven. Moreover, several unsubstantiated reports point to the Windows Runtime (WinRT) as the future development framework for Windows and Windows Phone.
Express your thoughts on the Visual Studio 11 Express lineup. Are Microsoft's attempts to offer free tooling for emerging platforms the right move? Or a sign that the traditional Windows desktop is indeed a legacy platform as the company looks to the future? Comment below, or reach me on twitter @RichardsKath.
Posted by Kathleen Richards on 05/22/2012 at 12:54 PM