Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop is Here

Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop is Here

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A few months ago, Soma announced plans for a Visual Studio Express 2012 edition for Windows Desktop. Today, we are happy to share that this new Express product is available for download. (You can find the system requirements and download details here.) This post is written by Jennifer Leaf, one of the program managers working on the new product.

It would be impossible to list every feature in Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop. However, in this post I want to tell you about some of the new tools and capabilities in the product that have not been available in any other Express products in the past. I’d also like to answer some of the questions you’ve been asking about what we’re including in this edition. Unless otherwise mentioned, the features listed are supported for all languages that are included in Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop – C++, C#, and Visual Basic.

Project Types

In Express for Windows Desktop, you’ll be able to create the same projects that you could in Visual Studio 2010 Express, for example, WinForms, WPF, Console and Class Libraries for Visual Basic and C#, and Win32 projects, class libraries, and CLR apps for C++. You can also combine C++, C#, and Visual Basic projects into a single solution, making it easy to write a single application using any of the available languages. Finally, you can round-trip your projects with Visual Studio 2010 SP1.

New Project dialog in Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop

Unit Testing

We wanted to make it easy for you to write and run unit tests for your projects. To make that possible, Express for Windows Desktop includes our existing unit test framework for C# and Visual Basic and the new native C++ unit test framework. This lets you write, run and debug unit tests directly inside Visual Studio. Unit Test project templates are also included so you can start writing unit tests right away.

Unit Testing in Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop

Code Analysis

We added a targeted set of code analysis rules to Express for Windows Desktop, which are the same code analysis rules that we added to Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows 8. For C++ projects, these rules help detect common coding errors, such as buffer overflows, dereferencing null pointers, using uninitialized variables, or misusing APIs. These errors can potentially lead to security vulnerabilities or application crashes if the errors are not fixed. For managed projects we included rules that help ensure correct object disposal, comparison, and garbage collection performance.

Code Analysis in Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop

TFS Integration

This release, we introduced Team Foundation Server Express 2012, as well as the Team Foundation Service at We also included Team Explorer, which allows for integration with your TFS server into all of our Visual Studio 2012 Express products, including this one. We wanted to make it simple for you to use the source code control, work item tracking, and build automation that TFS provides.

Team Explorer in Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop

Dependency Management with NuGet

Express for Windows Desktop includes NuGet, which makes it easier than ever to integrate libraries developed within your organization, or from 3rd parties, into your projects. To add or manage package dependencies for your projects, simply select the “Manage NuGet packages…” option from the project, or from the solution context menu in Solution Explorer.

NuGet in Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop

Language specific features

The new VS 2012 language and library features are available in Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop, including the async and await keywords in Visual Basic and C#, C++ AMP, and improvements to C++ 11 Standards conformance.

You can use Express for Windows Desktop with your Visual Basic and C# applications to target both .NET 4.0 and 4.5.

We also included the C++ 64-bit cross-compiler and libraries, so you can build 64-bit desktop applications without needing to install an older version of the Windows SDK.

Data Connections

In previous Express products, the ability to connect to a data source was limited to Database File. In Express for Windows Desktop, this capability has been extended to support all SQL Server data sources. For example, in Database Explorer, you can connect, navigate, query against and edit database objects through the latest SQL Server 2012 and Windows Azure SQL Databases.


We look forward to hearing your feedback on the release. Please submit bugs to the Visual Studio Connect site, and suggestions to Visual Studio UserVoice.

Special thanks to the following people who reviewed or contributed to this post: Mathew Aniyan, Aaron Bjork, Howard Dierking, Erick Ellis, Lisa Feigenbaum, Federico Kolliker Frers, Erin Geaney, Andrew Hall, John Hart, Saurabh Jain, Eric Knox, Phil Lee, Rong Lu, Karen Ng, Peter Provost, Pete Steijn, and Theo Yaung.


Jennifer Leaf – Senior Program Manager, Visual C++

Short Bio: Jennifer is a Senior Program Manager with the Visual C++ team. Prior to joining Microsoft in 2010, she spent the previous 9 years leading teams that developed C++ and C#-based tools for simulation and network data instrumentation and analysis.

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  • Please add 3 and 8 and type the answer here:
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  • They say it's modern, I say it's old time. Anyway, it the best of free tooll.

  • IE9 on Windows 7 Ultimate x86 doesn't work with the VS Desktop Express Product Key registration.  I had to copy/paste the URL into Firefox.

  • Ditto.

  • Just GREAT!!!

  • is it possible to combine vs for desctop and for web together, or i have to install two versions separately?

  • Mike said

    IE9 on Windows 7 Ultimate x86 doesn't work with the VS Desktop Express Product Key registration.  I had to copy/paste the URL into Firefox.

    I have IE9 under windows 7 home Prem. It will not allow me to register my visual studio, Microsoft please provde an email address where I can cut and paste the UID of my downloaded visual studio express 2012 for WIN desktop software, give microsoft my email address, and have the pordect key emailed to me. Your automated registration system through IE9 is broken and I would like to register my product before the 30 day limit expires.

  • Thanks for providing this. One question but it might not be the right version for this - Is there a way to still develop old fashion Windows Services using the Express editions? I somehow hoped that this Desktop version could do that.

  • Jump list is gone.  It was there, but I had to uninstall/reinstall after the local help's location had to change, but couldn't, and then nothing short of that un/reinstall would get it back (at the time).  Pretty sure the taskbar jump list was there.  Now it's not.  The fragility of Windows apps strikes again.

  • It is too high.

    If it upgrades every year, please make it cheaper.

    He cannot buy it with this.

    Moreover, in a free Express edition, although it is said that product registration is needed when it passes over 30 days, this is also opposite positively.

    And that the Microsoft account is indispensable takes time and effort considerably.

    Can you think over?

  • Does this support F#?

  • Why can't the Visual Studio Window Border change to the default Active Window Border color when it is the active window?  On Windows 8 it looks just like an inactive windows.  Come on guys, this is BASIC consistency stuff.  You should be embarrassed!

  • I'm coming from Visual Studio 6 SP6. I need to port hardware hernel device drivers from Win2K/XP  to run on Win7-32 eventually Win7-64.

    So Fresh install of Windows 7 Pro 32 bit. on a clean hard disk. Applied all the Windows updates except IE9. I'm still want IE8 coz I want a separate search bar. Downloaded VS2012 Desktop Express iso. Burnt to CD and installed on this new machine.

    Click Help->Register product, and up comes the Registration screen saying 30 days blah, blah. Click "Register Online" and I get bounced around and finally end uo at a screen where you want inside leg measurements, mothers maiden name, fathers shoe size etc. Click "Cancel", coz it says to do that if you don't want to submit it.

    Then get bounced around a bit more, and end up on the "Whats New in Visual Studio 2012" webpage.  No registration key anywhere.

    This machine has only got M$ software on it, and it's all the latest stuff AFAIK - ok 32 bit but still. Yet others seem to be saying you have to use Google Chrome to be able to register it? Pathetic

    Rudy first mentions the problem on 16th Sept. Today is 21st Sept. So one week in, and still no resolution? Only 25 days left till I'm locked out completely! Still, I expect it'll all be sorted by the time i get to work on Monday morning.

    So far I'm NOT IMPRESSED


  • @Judwin: I don't remember seeing a page requiring leg measurement numbers and I don't know what Cancel button you clicked, but it seems to me you canceled the registration process.

    Registration is required for all VS Express editions if you want to use them past the 30 evaluation days. Registration is free, and once you complete it you'll be provided with a serial number to use for your WDX copy.

  • This looks really good, thank you microsoft for providing it for free.

  • IE9 has many problems with Microsoft Support site Go and try to submit a support request for example. The tool for automatically finding your product serial number does not run. Given these issues with a very high-traffic  site (, I don't expect that they will fix VS Express registratin any time soon.

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