Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop

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As you may have seen, Soma announced today that Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop is now available for download.  For C++ developers, the Express for Windows Desktop includes many of the new C++ investments we made in Visual Studio 2012, including C++ AMP, improvements to C++ 11 Standards conformance, improvements to the compiler and linker, and the IDE.  It also includes the 64-bit cross-compiler and 64-bit C++ libraries, the C++ unit testing introduced in Visual Studio 2012, and a targeted set of code analysis rules to help you build more reliable applications.  And while we’re still working on the update that will enable targeting Windows XP, it will be supported with Express for Windows Desktop when it’s available.  Head on over to this post on the Visual Studio Team blog to join the discussion about what’s new in Express for desktop development.

Jennifer Leaf

Senior Program Manager

Visual C++

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  • Regarding XP support, is that coming in the same update as the one that is promised "this fall" over here: ?

  • We know you're eagerly awaiting this information, however we don't yet have a specific release date for Windows XP support to share yet.

  • Excellent!

  • @Jennifer: I'm not sure if you misunderstood me, or if this is just the Microsoft way of saying "we can't comment on that". But in case it's the former, I wasn't asking for a specific release date. :)

    But we already know that the first Visual Studio update is coming "this fall". I'm merely asking if this "first update" is the one that contains XP support.

  • @jalf:

    It seems to be the one, sometime later this year.

  • I have recieved no information as to why the visual studio express for windows desktop 2012 website does not state that the visual studio express for windows desktop 2012 download is only for a 30 day  evaluation copy, as I useually do not download evaluation software and I wait for the final release. Please tell me why the website did not  state that the download of visual studio express for windows desktop 2012 was for evaluation purposes only.

    This is going to be the free version for learning, or will we have to pay for the express editions?

  • @rudy: I suppose it is the same as with VS2010 Express editions - you need to register it to use after the 30 days, but otherwise it is free. I didn't try it yet, but it would not make no sense otherwise.

  • @rudy I think you misunderstood what evaluation means - IT IS NOT TRIAL - and in case of VS express - IT IS FINAL VERSION - David Robert gives correct advice.

  • Targeting Windows XP indeed works. Now the linker supports 5.x subsystem. If you use the WDK hack as explained by Koby Kahane, your VS2012 Express compiles will run on XP out of box, without the redist.

    BUT if you don't use the WDK headers and libs, you're in trouble. Why? Coz the 2012 redistributable won't install on XP!

    If you manually copy msvcr110.dll from your Vista/7/8 machine, that won't help either. You get various missing entry point errors in kernel32.dll etc.

    So it's great that we can target XP, but even then, the app won't run on XP. This enormous oversight (I hope) should be corrected. The 2012 redist also must support XP, otherwise the whole thing about targeting XP is useless.

  • Even an MSFT told me that "it is not a supported feature". WTF?

  • @b.viktor: XP targeting is not supported yet. The blog post from June simply means that they officially decided to enable XP targeting. The patch to enable this ability will arrive later this year. Would you explain what this "WDK hack" is that enables you to target XP right now? I'm curious.

  • @Kris: yes, it IS supported in Express. The blogpost explicitly said Express for Desktop will support it when released (it is released now), and an update will come for the full version later.

    "This update will also be INCLUDED in the recently-announced Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop."

    You can specify 5.x for subsystem version for the linker in Express for Desktop. That's what was missing from the prerelease versions and so is from the RTM version, but it is available in Express already.

    For WDK you have to use WDK7 headers and libraries for linking, and some msvcr obj files for linker input too. Original article:

    For more info and examples, see the HexChat source code:

    I even made a platform toolset installer:

    In that case, all you have to do is install the toolset, then specify WDK7 as platform toolset, and your app will work on XP/Vista/7/8 without any redist installed.

    Unfortunately it usually requires quite some hacks on the code level and is also causing me problems since I use GTK/Glib libs linked against different CRTs (mingw compiles), furthermore not everything's included in the WDK (since it's originally for driver development), so I'd like to compile everything cleanly with pure VS2012 and install the 2012 redist.

  • An example set of 2012 compiles:

    32 bit:

    64 bit:

    They are compiled with Visual Studio 2012 Express for Desktop. They will run on a virgin XP install. In case you doubt it, install Express along with WDK7, git clone the hexchat sources, open the solution, press F5 and see.

  • @Kris: yes, it IS supported in Express. The blogpost explicitly said Express for Desktop will support it when released (it is released now), and an update will come for the full version later.

    It did not explicitly say "when it is first released".  It does sort of sound that way, but it isn't explicit, so it may not have meant that, or maybe the schedule simply changed.

  • @b.viktor: I think you have misunderstood the situation. Even this blog post states that the XP targeting patch is not available yet. They're working on it. It will arrive this fall, later this year.

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