Visual Studio 11 final product line up revealed

Earlier in May, Microsoft revealed a number of changes it was planning to make to Visual Studio 11 in between the current beta version and the upcoming release candidate build of the software development tool. Now Microsoft has revealed the final product lineup for Visual Studio 11 (technically,  a codename for what Microsoft will likely call Visual Studio 2012 when the final version is released).

The people who like free software will be happy to know that Microsoft will offer free versions of Visual Studio 11 under the "Express" branding. Of course, there will be a Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows 8 and Microsoft says it will support C#, Visual Basic, C++ and JavaScript. There will also be Visual Studio 11 Express versions for Web development along with Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows Azure.

Microsoft will release a new Visual Studio Express port for Windows Phone developers for the first time this year, allowing app makers a free way to make Windows Phone 7.5 apps (and presumably Windows Phone 8 apps at some point).

As far as the full, paid, versions of Visual Studio 11, Microsoft will offer a number of different editions, ranging from Visual Studio 11 Professional for $1,199, all the way to Visual Studio 11 Ultimate for $13,299; the prices include an MSDN subscription. You can go to the Visual Studio 11 website to check out the differences between the editions. One change is that LightSwitch, which was previously released as a separate stand alone program, will now be a part of Visual Studio 11.

In terms of system requirements, Microsoft said:

Visual Studio 11 hardware requirements will be the same as Visual Studio 2010’s. If you are working now with Visual Studio 2010 you can enjoy the new performance improvements in Visual Studio 11 without any additional hardware investment. Visual Studio 11 leverages core capabilities that are only present in the latest versions of Windows. For this reason Visual Studio 11 requires Windows 7 or higher to run.

The release candidate version of Visual Studio 11 is expected to be available around the same time the Release Preview version of Windows 8 comes out, around the first week of June.

Image via Microsoft

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Isnt that the whole purpose of free version? make it annoying so that you will buy the full version? :-)

I installed the beta few weeks ago on Windows 8. seems to run fine and have less issues. They made most icons black and white. although i would prefer color coded since its easier to identify menu options.

still1 said,
Isnt that the whole purpose of free version? make it annoying so that you will buy the full version? :-)

I installed the beta few weeks ago on Windows 8. seems to run fine and have less issues. They made most icons black and white. although i would prefer color coded since its easier to identify menu options.

They added back the color. See the article screenshot and you'll see it in the RC build.

Frazell Thomas said,

They added back the color. See the article screenshot and you'll see it in the RC build.


oh yeah!! I did notice that after I posted!! I thought the black and white was permanent. Glad to know its not.

still1 said,
Isnt that the whole purpose of free version? make it annoying so that you will buy the full version? :-)

Actually I like the concept of dedicated UIs - whilst I currently use VS Prof/Ult, I think that if you develop in a single language (IMHO polyglot programming is a massive failure) these SKUs would be perfect. Would! as they limit them way too much (obviously due to the fact that they are free )

BTW: it seems like there won't be new releases of the language-tied versions based on VS11. Which is a big problem (considering the state of C++11 support in VS10)!

MFH said,

Actually I like the concept of dedicated UIs - whilst I currently use VS Prof/Ult, I think that if you develop in a single language (IMHO polyglot programming is a massive failure) these SKUs would be perfect. Would! as they limit them way too much (obviously due to the fact that they are free )

BTW: it seems like there won't be new releases of the language-tied versions based on VS11. Which is a big problem (considering the state of C++11 support in VS10)!

I have only tried Express a few times just to see how it works but I felt like it was a pain to switch between different languages. Although I am a C# developer I prefer using one UI for all language. I use professional at work and Ultimate at home.

Cant wait for the RTM release on MSDN! hopefully my company migrate to 2012 soon.

TCLN Ryster said,
Annoying that you have to get separate express versions for Azure, Windows 8 and Windows Phone. What if you develop for Azure AND Windows 8 AND Windows Phone? Will it let you install all three? I'm guessing not.

If they're all free, why not just bundle all the features into a single Express version and avoid all the confusion?

You can install all Express versions on the same computer with no problem. They don't have an Express version with all the tools integrated into one because you are getting it for free. They want to allow the hobbyist to play, create apps, and try it out. If you want to create a WP7 app that talks to an Azure service, then you start WP7 Express, start Azure Express, and develop. If you want to debug your app, you press F5 in one IDE, press F5 in the other and debug. But if you want the convenience of starting everything with one keypress, have all your projects in one solution, have your projects under SCC, have inter-project dependencies, then you pay more to get the Pro/Ultimate versions.

And as Frazell wrote below, there is a WP7 Express version today. If you have VS10 Pro (or higher) installed, it will add the necessary components to that version, but there is an WP7 Express.

still1 said,

I have only tried Express a few times just to see how it works but I felt like it was a pain to switch between different languages.

I'd say it's a pain if you're working on the same project with different languages.

still1 said,

Although I am a C# developer I prefer using one UI for all language. I use professional at work and Ultimate at home.

I'm mostly using C++ (actually apart from stuff for my university I'm only using C++). Thankfully I'm currently using the Intel Composer XE, which means that I don't need Microsoft's support to use C++11 features (actually our current code won't even compile in VS2010...)

Let's be honest: If you're not using .NET about 80% of VS are unneeded to you, yet you have to install it as there's no dedicated C++ IDE...

MFH said,

I'd say it's a pain if you're working on the same project with different languages.

I'm mostly using C++ (actually apart from stuff for my university I'm only using C++). Thankfully I'm currently using the Intel Composer XE, which means that I don't need Microsoft's support to use C++11 features (actually our current code won't even compile in VS2010...)

Let's be honest: If you're not using .NET about 80% of VS are unneeded to you, yet you have to install it as there's no dedicated C++ IDE...


At least not anymore any way. There is a Visual C++ Express edition that comes from VS2010.

My big issue is the removal of the per language Express editions they've had since 2005.

MFH said,

I'd say it's a pain if you're working on the same project with different languages.


I'm mostly using C++ (actually apart from stuff for my university I'm only using C++). Thankfully I'm currently using the Intel Composer XE, which means that I don't need Microsoft's support to use C++11 features (actually our current code won't even compile in VS2010...)

Let's be honest: If you're not using .NET about 80% of VS are unneeded to you, yet you have to install it as there's no dedicated C++ IDE...

Compilers are a very religious and misunderstood conversation, so I don't intend on offending anyone.

Sure a lot of VS is not needed for pure C or C++ development, but why would anyone spend more for Intel's compilers than the entry level and/or free versions of VS2010 or VS2011, when VS2010 started smacking Intel around for raw speed in C and C++ and it appears that VS2011 is pushing this even further with better parallel performance.

VS in 2005 hit a point that wasn't getting the full optimization attention, as Microsoft was still coming out of the secure everything mindset revamp. And VS2005 took a compiler performance hit. (However part of the criticism was part of the complexity of assembly code, and VS producing more code than Intel; however, in retrospect the extra code because it was compensating for security, especially with CPU level flaws that Intel wasn't addressing.) *pardon the pun.

With VS2010, the MS Engineers were able to focus again on optimization, shoving it ahead of other technologies, especially in parallel code and still keeping a level of security in the assembly code that Intel finally started to also implement. (As Intel basis a lot of their compiler work from Microsoft anyway.)

The alternatives out there like Borland and GNU don't even come close to the optimization, parallel generation, and security of either Microsoft or Intel, and is why even OSS developers often work in VS rather than GNU, as they end up using the Microsoft compiler technology.


Why does it matter if VS has 'extra' features, when the Microsoft C and C++ compiler technologies are good and free for a lot things, and even when compared to the only real competitive product from Intel still costs less for the same level of functionality/features as you are not needing the extra Windows specific tools and MSDN subscription features?

As an old school developer, having written a lot of hand assembly, I do know of some specific projects that the Intel compiler is the best choice, but for 99.999% of the projects out there, it is not the best choice and often will hurt overall performance.

For example, even in the assembly C++/C code vs .NET C# debate, there are truly times that .NET C# is going to be faster because of the nature of the runtime's caching and prediction and the compensation it makes for 'poor' developers. (Sadly some of the better C developers moving to object based work and C++ would do better with C# picking up and fixing things while they get there in fully understanding initialization and scope differences.


I appreciate what you are saying and your work, but to lead people to jump off the VS ship is not a wise choice unless they know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. With VS2008, there are some good performance differences to choose Intel, but at the same time, some of them are at the peril of code security that Intel wasn't addressing like Microsoft was in 2007.

thenetavenger said,

when VS2010 started smacking Intel around for raw speed in C and C++ and it appears that VS2011 is pushing this even further with better parallel performance.

It doesn't in my experience. Intel produces way faster code...

thenetavenger said,

With VS2010, the MS Engineers were able to focus again on optimization, shoving it ahead of other technologies,

I doubt that VS is ahead of any other C/C++ compiler at the momemt...

thenetavenger said,

especially in parallel code

I would especially disagree on that part...

Frazell Thomas said,
Windows Phone has always had a free visual studio express version. See create.msdn.com

Yup, you just can't use plugins.

How exactly did you miss the big thing, that VS11 Express is only for Metro apps, not full blown Windows applications. If you want to develop Windows applications, you have to stick with the 2010 Express versions, or dish out for the paid versions.

Journalism requires you to dig a little deeper than the surface to discover more important information than a press release, and you failed to dig at all for this bit of information, which affects students and hobbyists, who may wish to learn programming by building simple applications, not glitzy Metro apps, greatly.

Source: http://www.microsoft.com/visua...o/11/en-us/products/express

Ideas Man said,
How exactly did you miss the big thing, that VS11 Express is only for Metro apps, not full blown Windows applications. If you want to develop Windows applications, you have to stick with the 2010 Express versions, or dish out for the paid versions.

Journalism requires you to dig a little deeper than the surface to discover more important information than a press release, and you failed to dig at all for this bit of information, which affects students and hobbyists, who may wish to learn programming by building simple applications, not glitzy Metro apps, greatly.

Source: http://www.microsoft.com/visua...o/11/en-us/products/express

It's not. You can install it on Windows 7, too. You just don't get the WinRT projects. It's the same as the VS2010 express editions except it's all rolled into one devenv.exe instead of having separate ones.

GreyWolf said,

It's not. You can install it on Windows 7, too. You just don't get the WinRT projects. It's the same as the VS2010 express editions except it's all rolled into one devenv.exe instead of having separate ones.

To be fair, that page does explictly say

Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows 8 provides tools for Metro style app development. To create desktop apps, you need to use Visual Studio 11 Professional, or higher.

So if you want to develop desktop apps you either have to pay up for VS11 Professional or higher, or stick with VS 2010 Express.

Edited by ~Johnny, May 21 2012, 10:31pm :

~Johnny said,
To be fair, that page does explictly say

So if you want to develop desktop apps you either have to pay up for VS11 Professional or higher, or stick with VS 2010 Express.


Wow, looks like no VS11 for me then. Shame, I was really starting to like it.

~Johnny said,

To be fair, that page does explictly say

So if you want to develop desktop apps you either have to pay up for VS11 Professional or higher, or stick with VS 2010 Express.

To be fair with Microsoft though...

If you are a hobbyist or a targeted developer for the 'Express' editions, Microsoft should be encouraging this audience to take the jump into a new metaphor that transcends Metro, to a new concept of what an Application is and a new development model as well. (States and full time Apps and content persistence, etc.)

If you are a serious developer that is doing more than 'testing', you can probably afford the Professional Edition, or qualify for the Educational version through Dreamspark, etc.

Additionally, the differences between VS2010 and VS2011 are more about the development model and the WinRT/Metro. Yes there are new parallel and Async features and compiler features, and some optimizations, but again, unless you are shoving out a high performance gaming engine, these are not going to be a major difference in the product you produce from VS2010, and if they are, you can surely obtain the Professional Edition.

So to encourage people, I would probably 'recommend' what Microsoft is forcing anyway, as the upper layer approach of Microsoft's redefinition of Applications and development that complete their two tier approach to complete and painless portability is important for everyone to start to understand more and more now.

No Windows App on Express edition... LOL... what are they thinking.... that pushing developers to forcefully develop for metro will work out!!! Yeah... great going... I'll just stick to VS 2010 express

I work for a small business on a tight budget. Lightswitch is an awesome tool for us and I hate to pay $1300 for what cost us about 300 for future versions of it. They need to rethink this...

Really ? Is that a screenshot of the new version ? Starting from $1200 ? Ouch …

On the other hand, Xcode on the Mac has been completely redesigned and is completely free. Oh well, to each their priorities I guess.

PyX said,
Really ? Is that a screenshot of the new version ? Starting from $1200 ? Ouch …

On the other hand, Xcode on the Mac has been completely redesigned and is completely free. Oh well, to each their priorities I guess.

Let's pretend that the VS Express editions (also free) do not offer more than XCode (but they do).
XCode's free, but there are two big drawbacks: You'd be using xCode instead of VS and you'd be developing using Apple APIs. Both of those are years behind Microsoft's offerings, unfortunately.

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