Visual Studio Express 2008 is now available for download!!

 

Our new Web site is http://www.microsoft.com/express!

 

Below are my top 15 things to love about Visual Studio Express

15. Free hosting for client-based Web sites with Popfly Explorer

PopflyExplorer

Using the Popfly Explorer Add-On, you can now build and design Web pages using HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and Silverlight (even add existing Silverlight gadgets from Popfly) and publish them live to the Web for free. If you're looking for free ASP.NET hosting, the good folks at Verio have an offer for free hosting until January 2010!

14. Available in 9 localized languages and extensible for other languages (MUI Architecture)

An often overlooked feature, but Visual Studio Express is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Japanese, and Korean. Over the next couple of months, we'll ship all 9 localized versions of all four Express products (VB, C#, C++, VWD). In addition, in 2008, we redesigned the localization engine to support MUI which will enable our subsidiaries (or even customers) to localize Express into even more languages.

13. Multi-targeting or using VS 2008 for .NET Framework 2.0 Projects

Visual Studio 2008 is the first Visual Studio product that enables you to target multiple runtimes, so if your Web hosting company or your business only runs with .NET Framework 2.0, you can select 2.0 as your target Framework and it will still "just work" and even provide IntelliSense errors if you try to use something not available in 2.0 like LINQ.

12. Integrated C++ Platform SDK

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One of the key pieces of feedback we got from C++ developers was that it was difficult to download and configure the Platform SDK (headers, libraries, and tools) to build native Windows applications. In Visual C++ Express 2008, we've integrated the Platform SDK directly so this is much easier than before and with thousands of new native Windows Vista APIs to play with, C++ developers have plenty of cool applications to build.

11. Great Data Support

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[Visual Studio Express Database Designer]

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[Visual Studio Express LINQ-to-SQL Designer]

Visual Studio 2008 Express includes a Database Designer (top picture), a View Designer, LINQ-to-SQL support (bottom picture), drag-and-drop data-binding for Windows Forms, support for SQL Compact Edition for VB and C# Express, as well as new ASP.NET controls for LINQ data sources.  All Visual Studio Express Editions also enable you to consume data from Web services as well as support for Windows Communication Foundation (WCF). Visual Web Developer Express also adding support for *creating* WCF applications.

 

10. Express Registration Freebies

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When you register Visual Studio Express, you get lots of freebies (full list here) like:

  • Free Controls - Get free controls like the Telerik Rad Ribbon Bar (pictured above) to build Office 2007-style applications, as well as graphing controls from Graphics Server .NET, DevComponents BubbleBar, and more.
  • Free Images/Icons - Get 250 royalty free stock photography from Corbis and Windows Icons from IconBuffet Studio.
  • Free e-Books: Coming soon, you'll be able to download e-Books on Visual Basic and Visual C# 2008 Express.
  • Discounts - Discounts to home automation gear, Make magazine, Trossen micro-controllers and more.

After registering, go to http://connect.microsoft.com to download your registration benefits.

 

9. Killer Content

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In conjunction with the Express launch, we're also releasing a ton of new samples and resources including the Coding4Fun Developer Toolkit that adds support for Windows Vista features including Telephony (bottom picture) Mail, Calendar, Search, Text-to-Speech, Voice input, audio recording,  and much more in an easily consumable way for VB and C# developers.

We're also releasing a new, open source Windows Vista Peer-to-Peer chat and video application (top picture ) that enables you to chat and share pictures and video with friends anywhere in the world. As part of this application, we have some drag-and-drop controls to add chat to *any* WPF or Windows Forms application.

8. Improved Performance

While not as flashy as a P2P app, the team made significant performance improvements for things like the Visual Basic background compiler and C# IntelliSense on large projects that you'll appreciate as you start your next project.

7.  Built-in Support for ASP.NET AJAX and AJAX Controls

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ASP.NET AJAX now ships in Visual Web Developer Express 2008 so you can easily do partial-page updates (updates that dynamically retrieve data from the server without reloading the whole page) by simply adding an UpdatePanel control. Best of all, you can reuse all of the ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit (separate download) to enable some RAD AJAX features including animation, drop shadows, rounded corners, and more.

6. Game Development Kit for C++

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Another thing we are announcing today is a partnership with Game Creators which provides, for free the C++ Game Developers Kit (GDK) as well as the Dark Matter 1 set 2D/3D images and sounds.

 

5.  Windows Presentation Foundation

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New to Visual Basic and Visual C# 2008 Express Editions is a visual designer and project templates for building Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)applications. WPF applications enable you to build beautiful, interactive applications that can easily use media, animation and 2D/3D graphics. Best of all, you can mix and match WPF controls with Windows Forms applications so you can build animation-heavy pieces of your application in WPF and add them to your Windows Forms application or, use data-centric Windows Forms controls like the DataGridView and add them to your WPF application.

4. New Web Designer and JavaScript tool

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Built on the same engine that powers Expression Web, the Visual Web Developer Express designer includes a powerful design view with new features like a Split View to see HTML and the designer, CSS Styles and Properties Windows to design, preview, and apply styles.

The JavaScript includes improved IntelliSense, type inference, parameter IntelliSense, support for AJAX controls, improved debugging including visualizers for JavaScript data, and more.

3.  Tons of free learning content

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With launch, we're also refreshing our Beginner Developer Learning Center (BDLC) with new videos including Getting Started Videos each of the four Express Edition products as well as tutorials on LINQ, WPF, and more. Over the coming months, we'll continue to add more and more content on Visual Studio 2008 Express.

2. LINQ and language enhancements

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Visual Studio Express 2008 fully supports Language INtegrated Query (LINQ) which adds language query capabilities (similar to SQL) directly into the Visual Basic and C# languages. What that means is that you can query databases, XML files like RSS feeds, or in-memory objects all using a single syntax. Hand-in-hand with LINQ are a number of language enhancements that simplify working with .NET data types that really shine when working in tandem with LINQ queries. For more on LINQ support in Express, see my previous blog post.

1. It's FREE, you can use it for commercial use!

By this point I feel like a Cuisinart salesman, but you get free tools, free hosting on Popfly for Web pages and Visual Studio Express projects, free training from the BDLC, free controls and e-Books for registering Express, and even free samples/resources including the Coding4Fun Development Kit, the P2P toolkit, and the C++ Game Development Kit. 

Download now before we come to our senses :)