VC++ 2012 Desktop Express (Free)

Today Microsoft released another free Express version of Visual C++ 2012. In addition to the free Express Visual C++ compiler for building tablet applications, Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop directly supports traditional Windows and command-line applications in C++.

This a great free C++ compiler on Windows for everything from hobby development to using and contributing to open source projects. Besides additional C++11 standards conformance with range-for, override and final on the language side (with more to come in the coming months; watch this space) and a complete C++11 standard library implementation, the free compiler also includes unit testing framework for C++, code analysis for C++ (try /analyze today if you haven’t already, as John Carmack says so well), C++ AMP for GPGPU programming, and much more.

See also the longer announcement here.

22 thoughts on “VC++ 2012 Desktop Express (Free)

  1. Ben, I didn’t say Microsoft C++ 11, I said VC11 (Visual C++ 11).

    I certainly hope with their “release more often” mentality, that the bar isn’t closed 12 months out, or they won’t get any releases before the next VS version.

  2. /analyze is crap, I just ran it against huge codebase that was written in VS 2010(so I could only use it on couple of projects) but warnings are just wrong or useless. Total boredom… could be NULL, yeah sure… also some uninitialized warning are just WRONG. because I guess it is to badly written to follow all code paths…
    Moral of the story: my coworkers are geniuses or analyze in VS 2012 Express is junk.

  3. @GregM: The Microsoft C++ compiler version 11 is something like a decade old at this point. But I know you meant the C++ compiler (version 17.x?) bundled with Visual Studio 2012.

    For an exact lockdown date, you’d have to ask the compiler team. I might have overstated when they go to fixing crashes only, regressions can also get fixed in late stages of the release cycle. But I can say from experience that real bugs and standard conformance issues have to be submitted long (12 months or more) before release, or else I get told they don’t meet the triage bar for the release-in-progress.

    And one of my beefs with Microsoft’s bug reporting system is that bugs that miss the triage bar tend not to get tracked for the next release either, even though it isn’t in lockdown.

  4. Ben, was the VC11 C++ compiler really in crash-fix-only lockdown for a year before the product released?

  5. @Anuj: Be aware that the C++11 standard was finalized after the compiler code went into crash-fix-only lockdown. It’s not that Microsoft is supporting C++11 half-heartedly, it’s that C++11 is (of necessity based on shipping timelines) a milestone for the next version.

  6. Now, where can I get a download of Visual Studio Ultimate 2012 for Windows Desktop?

    I want my plugins and disassembly view, but I don’t want all the non-Win32 support (i.e. WinPhone, WinRT, T-SQL, Developer Tools for Office, XBox, ASP.NET, etc) taking up valuable space on my SSD (not to mention installing boot-start services).

  7. I downloaded and installed the Visual Studio 2012 Desktop; but cout << __cplusplus still gives me 199711.

    Any guess about when we'll have the full C++11? (All I need is the compiler that I can run from the command line and the standard library. I don't need to do any GUI stuff.)


  8. @peeterjoot: You do need to register using the link in the dialog — registration is free, you usually get one marketing message when you register, and you can un-check the “send me occasional email” boxes. There are no commercial restrictions on apps built with Express — it’s for both commercial and non-commercial use.

    @Anuj: This release includes essentially the entire C++11 standard library, and also adds some C++11 language features — range-for, override, final, and a few other small updates. As alluded to above, and announced in February at GoingNative, soon after VS 2012’s release we plan to have out-of-band releases with additional C++11 language features… that’s why I wrote “more to come in the coming months.” Stay tuned!

  9. +1 for Pierre’s question.
    Also VS2010(Prem, Ult) vs VS2012 Express vs VS2012 capabilities comparison would be nice

  10. I’m using a lot the Static Analysis feature and it helps well with C++11, so yay for that!
    However I was a bit surprised that VS2012 doesn’t allow code metrics with C++? I was wondering if there are specific reasons to that, like the C++ grammar getting in the way?

  11. even this version is lacking lots of c++11 features. is MS is supporting c++ half-heartedly?

  12. Upon first use of this version of Visual studio, it asks for a product key and states there’s a 30 day expiry if not specified. Is this supposed to be a time limited trial, or just a version with the usual non-commercial restrictions of the last express version?

  13. @Aardappel – “So the big question: what does Pro offer that Express Desktop doesn’t (besides… plugins) ?”

    “Attach to process”, if you want to debug code running from another application, like Matlab for instance..

  14. @Aardappel – “So the big question: what does Pro offer that Express Desktop doesn’t (besides… plugins) ?”

    + Debugger disassembly view. VS2010 Express doesn’t do this. Good luck debugging release mode problems (customer crash dumps) w/o disassembly view.

  15. I remember I read that code analysis rule set in express version will probably be a subset of the rule set of ultimate version. Can you confirm that ?
    Is there any summary with which rules are supported in express version and which one are not ?


  16. I must agree with Nicol.
    I rather have a low prices personal-use-only edition which is full featured (at least up to the pro version (team foundation features are useless for personal use anyway ;)

    I had such a bad experience with VS2008 C++ express that never looked into any express version again. The problem was that I couldnt build against windows runtime :) I had to download win2003 SDK !!!! while working on winXP, just so I can build very simple projects targeting win32 :((

  17. So the big question: what does Pro offer that Express Desktop doesn’t (besides… plugins) ?

  18. I just spent the day crashing VS2010 performance explorer while attemting to profile some code. I’m looking forward to the vs2012 update 1 so I can switch to a (hopefully) more stable product.

    PS: Do you think anyone at Microsoft looks at the crash reports or am I just wasting my time sending them in?

  19. “code analysis for C++”

    Really? You’re giving C++ code analysis tools away for free, yet you won’t let Express users have *plugins*? At home, I’m stuck on VS2008 because Microsoft discontinued the reasonably-priced Standard Edition after 2010, so I’d have to pay ~$500 just to get back Visual Assist (which is non-negotiable as far as I’m concerned). Yet you’re willing to give out a quality code analysis tool.

    I’m not against code analysis; it’s very important. But if I had to pick which feature I wanted in VC++ Express, the ability to use plugins would be preferable.

  20. Very pleased to see Microsoft restore this to their dev tool portfolio. Now pre-Professional young developers can pick up a copy of the 5th edition of the ‘C++ Primer’ (so good, even seasoned C++ devs should give it a look) and work away learning the fundamentals of C++ 11 using the time honoured console application as their lab bench.

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