Compare Visual Studio 2012 Express Editions and download for free

Learn more about the Express editions of Visual Studio 2012. Compare the editions and find differences.

Microsoft has been offering the Express Editions of many development tools for free for past several years. For example, you could download SQL Server Express and Visual Studio Express editions for free. The Express editions are limited editions with some of the core productivity features trimmed down and reserved for the paid subscribers.

In the previous releases of VS Express editions, you could download language specific Express editions. For example, you could download Visual Studio 2010 for C#, Visual Studio 2010 for VB.NET etc. These limited editions supported only one language and you could develop applications using the one language only.

Microsoft is changing strategy for Visual Studio 2012. The new Express editions are limited to specific target platform and not limited to a language. The following editions of Visual Studio 2012 Express editions are available:

  • Visual Studio Express for Web

  • Visual Studio Express for Windows Desktop

  • Visual Studio Express for Windows 8

  • Visual Studio Express - Team Foundation Server

  • Let us compare each of these editions and see how they are different and what are the similarities.

    Visual Studio 2012 Express for Web

    The Express for Web allows you to develop cool ASP.NET web applications and HTML 5/CSS applications. It comes with all project templates and tools required to develop intuitive web applications. You will not be able to create Windows desktop apps using the Express for Web edition of Visual Studio. This edition supports full intellisense for HTML5/CSS3 web applications. There are more advanced tools to work with JQuery and Javascript. This edition can be installed on Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows Server and supports both 32 bit and 64 bit architecture.

    Visual Studio Express for Windows Desktop

    This edition allows you to develop traditional Windows desktop applications using your favorite languages like C#, VB.NET or C++. You can create multiple projects using the language of your choice and package them all in to a single solution, allowing true multiple programming language support.

    Visual Studio Express for Windows 8

    This is a new addition to the Express edition family. The Visual Studio Express for Windows 8 is meant to help developing Windows 8 Metro Style Apps in your favorite .NET language. It can run only on Windows 8 platform. This setup requires about 2.71 Gb hard disk space when installed on Windows 8 computer.

    The VS 2012 Express Edition for Windows 8 comes with Microsoft Blend software included in it so that you can design great looking user interface for your Windows 8 Metro Apps. It helps you design controls and interface using XAML. Blend is not part of other editions of Visual Studio.

    Team Foundation Studio 2012 Express

    The Team Foundation Studio Express is a limited edition of the Microsoft Team Foundation Server, which offers a range of software development collaboration tools and application life cycle management tools. With the Express edition, up to 5 developers can collaborate using the available tools. The tools included in the Team Foundation Server include:

    1. Source Code control
    2. Work item tracking
    3. Build automation
    4. Unit testing

    Hardware requirements are same for all editions of Visual Studio Express editions.

    What you need to develop Windows 8 Metro Apps?

    Visual Studio 2012 Ultimate Edition is the complete development solution for developers to develop any Visual Studio applications. If you are working in a team environment, the Team Foundation Server will give you everything you need to develop any kind of Windows applications.

    If you cannot afford to buy Visual Studio paid editions, then the Express editions are for you. Even though they are offering only limited functionality, by choosing appropriate product, you can get the best out of it for your needs.

    If you are planning to develop Windows 8 Metro style apps using C#, VB.NET or C++ and prefer an express edition of Visual Studio, then go for Visual Studio 2012 Express for Windows 8. It comes with all tools that you need to develop Windows 8 Apps. If you are a web developer and like to use only HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript, this edition has complete support for standards based HTML5 and CSS3.

    You can learn more about Visual Studio 2012 express editions in the official Microsoft Visual Studio website.

    Article by Tony John
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