A few days ago, Microsoft used its Visual Studio blog to reveal all of the versions that it will offer developers for the upcoming launch of its "Visual Studio 11" software development tools (that name will likely be changed to Visual Studio 2012 when it is actually launched). However, one change in the product lineup has a number of Windows desktop developers up in arms.
In the original version of the blog, Microsoft stated:
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. In addition, Visual Studio 2010 Express products - Visual Basic 2010 Express, Visual C++ 2010 Express, and Visual C# 2010 Express - will remain available for free download.
That basically means that if you want to make a desktop app for Windows 8 with Visual Studio 11, you have pay money to get the full version of the software, while Metro Windows 8 app makers can use the free Express version. The comments on the Visual Studio blog have nearly all been negative on this change, with developers feeling that Microsoft has abandoned free Windows desktop development. One comment post stated:
I can't understand why you do not plan to release an Express version that is able to build desktop apps. That sounds crazy to me. All the open source developers that enjoy building apps for Windows won't magically start creating metro application because your VS11 Express can't build desktop ones.
Since that post was put online a few days ago, Microsoft edited it and it now says:
If you would like to use a language specific Express edition (C# Express, Visual Basic Express, or C++ Express) without specialized tooling for the latest platforms, you can use the Visual Studio 2010 Express editions, which will continue to be available as free downloads.
It's basically the same message but Microsoft isn't being quite as direct about its plans for Visual Studio 11 Express.
Neowin contacted Microsoft's PR reps to find out more information about the change, including why it was made. In their statement sent to us, Microsoft said:
Each of the Visual Studio 11 Express editions provides a comprehensive and simple solution for developers interested in the opportunity of the latest Microsoft platforms to quickly and easily build apps in their preferred language. Given this extended platform capabilities included in the Express editions, their broad language support, and in order to maintain their simplicity and ease of use, separated language versions of Visual Studio Express will not be available in the next version of the product. To create desktop applications, developers need to use Visual Studio 11 Professional, or higher. In addition, Visual Studio 2010 Express products - Visual Basic 2010 Express, Visual C++ 2010 Express, and Visual C# 2010 Express - will remain available for free download.
Microsoft would not comment further when asked by Neowin.
Source: Microsoft Visual Studio blog