Earlier this month, I announced in my GoingNative talk C++11, VC++11 and Beyond that Visual C++ 11 Beta would be available in February.
Today’s the day: You can download Visual Studio 11 Beta here.
Interestingly, VC++11 is being distributed under a go-live license, which means that Microsoft supports using this compiler to write production code. That’s unusual for a first beta, and it means you can start using its features – notably parallelism and C++11 library and language conformance improvements like range-based for loops – in your production code right away.
- Complete ISO C++11 standard library. As announced in September, we’ve added full support for essentially the entire C++11 standard library, which I think is a first for the industry to ship in-the-box with a C++ compiler product. We already shipped most of the C++11 stdlib in VC++ 2010, and now we’re including threads, mutexes, condition variables, atomics, futures, and async – and not just as checkmark features, but with async and futures built on top of our ConcRT runtime that also powers the Parallel Patterns Library. Oh, and we’re also shipping an implementation of the draft-standard header <filesystem> based on Boost.filesystem for portable access to directories and files. (The ISO C++ committee has just resumed work on filesystem for near-term standardization; more about this soon in my ISO C++ trip report, which I plan to post within a few days.)
- Several more ISO C++11 language features. As mentioned in September, we’ve added support for C++11 stateless lambdas and scoped enumerations. On top of that, we were happy to announce this month that we’re also adding the range-based for loop, override, and final – all of which are available in today’s release, and supported for production code.
- Parallelism galore. As we announced in June, it includes C++ AMP for parallel programming on CPUs and GPUs (with a view to more in the future, including cloud). This month we were also able to add that if the end user’s machine doesn’t have a compute-class GPU and is running Windows 8, we also provide an automatic fallback to multicore + vector SSE instructions, which for now is a fallback but we will continue to improve, so it’s already not just about GPUs. We’ve also expanded the Parallel Patterns Library (PPL) to support Standard C++11 concurrency features, provide more STL-style concurrent containers (e.g., concurrent_unordered_map), more parallel STL-style algorithms (e.g., parallel_sort), and a block-free continuation library for async operations (think “future.then()”, but for now we named it “task.then()” in case ISO C++ wants to surface something like this differently). Almost lost in all the news was another cool nugget: We’re also shipping an automatic vectorizing and parallelizing compiler that takes loops (with optional hints) and automatically generates both multi-core parallel and SSE-style vector code for you.
As I also mentioned in this month’s talk, once VC++11 ships, we’re switching to a faster out-of-band release cadence so that we can deliver features more quickly than waiting for Visual Studio release schedules – especially to continue to roll out C++11 language features in batches, on a path to full conformance as soon as possible. The first thing you’ll see is a Community Tech Preview (CTP) that we intend to ship soon after VC++11 ships, which we expect to take the form of a new command-line compiler (initially not IDE integration and Intellisense) that you an drop into VC++11 to quickly start taking advantage of still more of the new C++11 language features, with a full out-of-band release to follow after that with still more.
If you haven’t already, please take this quick C++11 feature survey where you can vote on what C++11 features are most urgent for you in VC++. We’re going to implement all C++11 features, but we have to do them in some order – we’re users too and talk to customers regularly, so we think we know what’s most urgent, but we want to sanity-check that with you and make sure we’re doing them in the right order to deliver the most benefit to the most people as soon as possible.