Microsoft has always provided two primary debugging experience: Visual Studio and Debugging Tools for Windows (a.k.a WinDbg). Each debugger provided a very different debugging experience (both from a capabilities point of view as well as usability). WinDbg was most commonly used when you had the need for low level debugging and was also not very user friendly requiring a steep learning curve. Visual Studio on the other hand was a very user friendly type of debugger but not always suited for low level type of debugging. Fortunately, with the introduction of Visual Studio 2012 (beta) both experiences are now folded into the Visual Studio debugger.

To start using the powerful WinDbg commands and extensions in Visual Studio 2012 it requires that you install the WDK on top of Visual Studio 2012. Once the install is completed you will notice a new transport as shown below:


In the transport dropdown there will be several new choices including Windows User Mode Debugger which is what you want to pick to enable the WinDbg experience. Once you select your process and click attach the debugger immediate window will be displayed and serves essentially the same purpose as the WinDbg command window:


You can now execute all the cool and powerful commands that you would otherwise do in WinDbg directly in the debugger immediate window! This is a great step forward to unifying the debugging experience and avoiding the need to learn two different tools.

Until next time, happy debugging!



Some users are reporting that the Windows User Mode Debugger is not showing up as a transport option. On Visual Studio 2012 RC it looks like you must also install the Windows SDK for this option to appear.