Microsoft Announces new Express Products!!


In the TechEd Europe keynote today we officially announced the new Express products that are available to download right now:


  • Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition (download)
  • Visual C# 2005 Express Edition (download)
  • Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition (download)
  • Visual J# 2005 Express Edition (download)
  • Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition (download)
  • SQL Server 2005 Express Edition (download) – Note, SQL Express is included as an optional component in the installers of the other Express products. 


As I had blogged before, you finally get to see the big picture of everything we’re offering in Visual Studio 2005.  On the high end, we’re adding new tools and support for enterprise developers, testers, architects, and team collaboration through Visual Studio Team System and Team Foundation. On the low end, we’re adding new tools for students and non-professional developers through five new developer tools and a lightweight, entry-level database.


There are a couple of challenges for beginning developers and people evaluating our developer tools. One is the lack of tools focused for entry-level programmers.  Visual Studio .NET is a very powerful tool, but beginning programmers or developers who just program on the side, can get lost in the complexity. So we decided to build tools, documentation, and Starter Kits with the beginning programmer in mind.


Another challenge is the barrier to evaluate Visual Studio.  Downloading Express is a matter of minutes, not hours, in fact the C# IDE alone weighs in around 24MB and with a 20MB framework, the install is only about 54MB. That’s a huge reduction from the 3GB of a full VS install J


·        We want to hear from you, I’m consolidating comments and will pass them on internally, please let us know what you think!

·        What do you think about Express?

·        Is this a good idea, would you recommend Express to friends interested in starting to program?

·        What are your favorite features of Express?

·        What features do you think are missing from Express?



Comments (51)
  1. Ben says:


    I was extremely surprised by this announcement.

    Downloading and installing now.

    I am not a MSDN Universal subscriber and was always disappointed that I would not be able to test the betas. This is a great oppertunity! I’ll pass on my comments after testing it out.


  2. Thanks Ben, definitely let us know what you think!!

  3. OmegaSupreme says:

    Great news, brilliant !!!

  4. Ben says:

    I installed the C# 2005 Express Beta. The installation went well, except that it failed to install the Sql Server 2005 Beta, which I had choosen to install. I will try to install it seperately later.

    I have used C# 2005 for about 3 hours now. I immediately noticed many useful improvements. I really like a lot of the new features and I can see how much hard work Microsoft has been putting into this product.

    Favorite feature so far? Generics, hands down. I missed this so much in V1 and 1.1. Refactoring is great too. There are a great many usability improvements at well.

    What features do I think are missing?

    -Selfishly, I’d really love to see C# have have const similar to C++, including declaring methods as const (to ensure that it does not change any fields). Support for const needs to built directly into the CLR, but needs not be CLS complient.

    -I would like to see a new UtcDateTime class in addition to the current DateTime (been discussed before).

    -While the new WebBrowser is quite useful, I am a little disappointed in that it does not recognize the current web browser but merely wraps around IE (especially considering how .Net can be plateform independent). Perhaps you should rename it "InternetExplorerBrowser". At least it is found in the Microsoft-specific System.Windows.Forms namespace.

    I’m glad to have a chance to test this. I have already filed two bugs and verified a few others. Best of luck in making this into a wonderful product; Microsoft has obviously made significant progress in that respect.

    Thanks again for this opportunity.

  5. It’s seems that installation fails on WinSrv2003 SP1 (possibly cause of problems is BITS: BITS_Fatal_Error: CDownloadJob::AddFile() failed ).

    I like to see that setup includes automatic error reporting now and I’m looking forward to see result of error submission 😉

  6. Me says:

    In Australia we (10 people) have 3 GB per month and 20c per megabyte excess downloads. Software which downloads during the install is no good for us.

    Would it be possible for Microsoft to provide a downloadable version?

  7. Sean Malloy says:

    I’m already pimping this around to all the various hobby developers I know.

    This is great.

  8. Scott says:

    Does SQl Server 2005 support "side-by-side" installation?

  9. [Feedback]

    Sergey – Thanks for the heads up on the error, did you get a chance to send in the error report? Please do as this will help us analyze what went wrong. Did you try multiple times or just once? Which Express product where you trying to install?

    "Me" – We are looking to do distribute via CD as well, the reason we went to dynamic install is that we can intelligently decide how much to pull down to the client. For example, if you already have the .NET Framework, MSDN Express, or SQL Server Express, your download will only be 24MB, for the IDE. Rather then forcing everyone to download a full 250MB (all optional components included) app, we went the dynamic route. If you send me your mailing address, I’ll mail you a copy of C# Express (assuming that’s what you wanted).

    Sean – Thanks!!

    Scott – Assuming I understood you correctly, yes, you can run SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2000 side-by-side.

  10. Dan, I’m used online error reporting feature of Setup and sent reports for both VC++ and VC# 2005. It seems that I found solution (and reason) for this error: it’s the same problem as Dana Epp have with WXPSP2 ( BITS service DOES NOT work in ‘runas’ environment (my usual account does not have administrative rights), so when I re-logon locally as admin installation completed successfully.

  11. Ian Ceicys says:

    Hey, I’m a Student Ambassador to Microsoft and MVP and I’m really really juiced about the express line. I’d love to see some integration with the SA(Student Ambassador Program) and this product line. Focusing on the beginning programmers is awesome!! Finally, I’ll be able to sit down and in under five minutes have L88t Linux students playing with VS and building apps in no time flat. I’ve been really excited waiting for the public debut of this line. Please feel free to contact me, I’d love to become more invovled with any plans. ianceicys@gmail,comnospam(delete the ‘nospam’)

  12. Dana Kaufman says:

    I see in the description that the Express Versions (C#, J#, VB) support the consumption of Web Services. Do they also allow you to create Web Services?

  13. Hi Dana, only Visual Web Developer Express can be used to create Web services. The reasons for this are that both Web applications and Web services require the same ASP.NET infrastructure so it maked sense to group them together in the VWD Express product.

  14. sb says:

    Can C# Express co-exist with VS 2003?


  15. Dan, as I pointed out on my blog and to Scoble, it would be really helpful if we could get more details on the differences between VS.NET and the Express products. The key for me is understanding what is NOT included in an express product. From the information I have seen so far, I can’t really tell what developers are giving up by using an express product instead of a full version of VS.NET. I assume that a full-time developer like me should stick with VS.NET Professional or Enterprise. But it will be difficult for me to recommend an express product to someone else without knowing how it limits them. For example, are the limitations only IDE-related?

  16. Steve – Yes, C# Express can co-exist with Visual Studio 2003. One thing to keep in mind is that applications created using C# Express target the .NET Framework 2.0 and cannot target the 1.1 version of the .NET Framework.

  17. Avonelle – Great question, we debated internally about whether to have a feature-by-feature breakdown and we decided not to because Express and all of Visual Studio is a beta 1 product. We want to hear your feedback on what features make sense for Express. We also do not have a definitive list of features that will be included in Visual Studio 2005 since the product is in flux and some features may or may not make the final cut.

    What I can tell you is that the enterprise-class features of Visual Studio Team System will not be in Express. I’ll see if maybe we can post a blog entry or MSDN article on the differences, we just don’t want to overpromise 🙂

  18. Dan – thanks for the response. I understand concerns about providing too many specifics about what will be included/excluded, since the product is still in progress. In my view, since it is a public beta, it should at least be possible to provide information on what is in the beta, with the understanding that it could change in the final version. Without this information, our only other way to know the specifics is to download the beta and try it for ourselves. As a professional developer already using .NET, I’m clearly not the target audience for this product, so I don’t have any incentive to take the time to review this, except for my role as an influencer. It is hard to suggest that someone check out the Express product without really understanding what is included and excluded.

  19. [ via <a href=""><span style="font-style: italic;"></span></a> ] <a href=""><span style="font-weight: bold;">Microsoft

    has made betas of "Express" versions of its programming languages/IDEs</span></a>;

    these will appear in their final form in Visual Studio 2005.<br>

    <br><a href=""&gt;

    Dan Fernandez</a>, Visual C# Product Manager, <a href="">writes</a&gt;:<br>

    <p style="margin-left: 40px;">As I had <a href="">blogged before</a>, you finally get to see the big picture …

  20. I would love to code at home. However as a low-income developer, my box at home is a <blushing> 200Mhz PII running Windows 98.

    Any (slim) chance this Express line supports 98, while the .Net SDK currently does not?

  21. Scott says:

    Actually, to follow p on Avonelles question. I looked the other day at every VS product page I could find and I couldn’t find the old differences chart for the standard- developer – and Enterprise versions of Visual Studio 2003 anymore. Will the chart outlining the differences between the current versions of Visual Studio be making a comeback anytime soon?

    Question 2 – What are the limitations on the assemblies you create with the other 4 versions in the express line, not including VWD?

    Avonelle: I’m also a professional .NET developer, but I don’t have access to the Whidbey beta bits. I’m using the Express downloads to take the new language features out for a spin at home w/o corrupting my work environment with beta products.

  22. Mani says:

    We are having a discussion about this over a channel 9 – here is a link.

  23. Sean Malloy says:

    To anyone requesting a download version of the installers:

    If you run the web based download, and do the installation, the setup files will be downloaded to your user temp folder (Documents and Settings[User]Local SettingsTempVSSETUP

    You can then copy the files out of there, and copy them/back them up, and then from now on do the installation from those downloaded files. The total download for ALL of the express editions, + MSDN + SQL is about 400mb

    MAKE SURE YOU COPY THE DOWNLOADS OUT BEFORE YOU EXIT SETUP! Exiting setup issues a cleanup command which removes downloaded files from the temp dir.



  24. MercedesPLopez says:

    SeanMalloy, thanks for the hint (best one so far, downloading right now wouldhave hatedto do it again (yes my spacebar is sticking have to slam down pretty good bang bang bang).

  25. Avonelle – With regard to having a document that explains what’s in the Express beta, yes, we have one for C# Express in a walkthrough style that will be on MSDN soon (I’ll blog it when it’s up).

  26. Scott – We do still have a page that compares Visual Studio .NET 2003 editions, it’s just hard to find 🙂

    For Question 2 – "What are the limitations on the assemblies you create with the other 4 versions in the express line, not including VWD?"

    Answer – There are no limitations, they’re fully fledged, regular plain-old assemblies with no restrictions, no weird licensing issues and no performance penalties.

  27. Thank you to everyone for sending in the Watson setup issues and adding bugs to Ladybug. The setup team is working *hard* on releasing an updated Express installer that should resolve the installation issues. The new installer could be up as early as tomorrow night, I’ll blog about it once it’s up, and thanks again for the feedback!!

  28. Nathan, unfortunately you cannot install Express on Windows 98 as Windows 2000 with SP4 is the minimum supported operating system. One thing that might interest you for developing on the current version of Visual Studio is the Visual Studio .NET 2003 Hosted Experience. It’s a free way to basically terminal server into a machine to play with Visual Studio without having anything installed on your machine. In the future, we’ll also have Visual Studio 2005 available through the Hosted Experience.

  29. >> Yes, C# Express can co-exist with Visual Studio 2003. One thing to keep in mind is that applications created using C# Express target the .NET Framework 2.0 and cannot target the 1.1 version of the .NET Framework.

    The Visual Web Developer told me I had to uninstall first…. (I have both PDC Whidbey and 2003 installed…)

  30. Dru Nelson says:

    Hey, would like to hear more about the C++ and x86 code generation. Or better yet, a comparison of features or a list of things that are limited in the express versions. Can it use Add-ins?

    Finally, I know everybody is gaga over CLR,Windows.Forms, and Avalon, etc. Still, why didn’t you include the ATL with Express or explicitly talk about building native Win32 apps.

  31. Mike – While you can have multiple versions of Visual Studio (2002, 2003, 2005) installed on one machine, you cannot have multiple versions of the *same* .NET Framework installed on one machine. For example, you can’t have two versions of VS 2005 (say the March CTP and the May CTP) installed on the same machine. To get VWD Express to work, you will need to uninstall the PDC Whidbey build as it is an earlier version of the .NET Framework 2.0. VWD Express and VS 2003 will happily co-exist.

    Dru – I’ve asked Nick Hodapp, the C++ Product Manager to respond to your C++/ATL questions.


  32. Shteinitz. says:

    I want to second Ben’s comment: Add full C++-like const support to C#. It’s a life-saver.

  33. Dave Lewis says:

    Dan, I see that you offered to mail out to someone a copy of C# Express, being just the 24mb core. Surely it would be possible, even easy, for just that to be made availble for download?

    SQL Server Express, the MSDN Express Library and the Framework Beta all have thier own seperate download areas, so why not the Express editions of the languages? I would really, really like to be able to download this (and at only 24mb, it wouldn’t take too long), but with the current setup, the only thing I really want to get is the one thing I can’t – the languages.

  34. Nick Hodapp says:

    Hi Dru —

    We opted not to include ATL / MFC with VC++ Express for a number of reasons. A key part of the decision was to keep the complexity and size of VC Express inline with the other Express editions. Had we included ATL / MFC, we would have had to include documentation (huge), lots of libs and dll’s, and more support in the IDE (note we dont even include the Win32 resource editors in Express).

    Not to fear, you’ll still have access to ATL / MFC in other editions of Visual Studio. Just not in our light-weight offering.


  35. Dru Nelson says:

    Thanks Nick, for the response. I can understand the decision. I did try it out and it wasn’t too hard to build a Win32 app with the Express version. The lack of the resource editor was something that I noticed fairly quickly. If you guys do re-evaluate the decision, please reconsider allowing the ATL and resource editors as downloadable components. I don’t know how big the resource editor is, but I do know that the ATL is a few megs. The documentation should also be configurable. I mean, how many of use need the entire WinCE or FoxPro docs. The only problem with my argument is that I’m probably forgetting something (MIDL?) that isn’t so trivial 🙂

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I believe doing the x86/WIN32 dev in the Express world would be nice (and a nice price) and appears to fit within the Express

    idea. Usually the x86/Win32 people are not building lots of Enterprise/SQL/Team

    stuff. So, if you guys get to change this, please consider this a vote.

    P.S. BTW, Although you mention MFC in your response, I’m not a fan of the MFC 🙂

  36. Scott says:

    Dan: Bingo that’s exactly what I was looking for. Thanks. hmmm, except that "Standard" is missing from it. Oh well, close enough.

  37. Jon says:

    I just downloaded Visual C++ Express Edition, I am having trouble running Win32 console programs. I created a Win32 console program and built it, if there were errors they would not show up in the Task List like in previous versions of Visual C++. Then when I went to run it there was no option to Run without Debugging, so i ran it with the debugger. The program popped up for a second then disappeared since there were no run-time errors and no breakpoints. I also downloaded Visual C# Express Edition and it has the option to Run without Debugging. If anyone could help me it would be appreciated.


  38. Paul Dougherty says:

    How are the Express editions different from past products? Seems like a re-labeling of the "learning editions". Compare "Express" to VB6 (Learning edition), VB.NET 2002 (Standard or book-trade "Deluxe Learning edition"), VB.NET 2003 (Standard or book-trade "Deluxe Learning edition"). (Same for C# and J# products).

    I’m not complainig at all; having cheaper versions available has always been a good thing.

  39. For those of you that requested it, we now have a manual installation option for Express. Simply click on the "Having trouble downloading? Click here for manual installation instructions." link.

  40. Dan says:

    MFC really is a key part of the C++ development system for those of use who wish not to use the .NET system (for compatibility and other reasons), therefore I feel it will be wise to include it.

  41. Byron says:

    Very cool. I’m a dev who likes to learn both proprietary and Open Source tools, apps, servers, etc. It has always been easy to get the OSS stuff, and it’s nice that MS has made it easy to get their entry level stuff too. Thanks! One suggestion – consider providing a single download for all the tools in addition to separate downloads. Not sure if enough people dl all the tools enough to make this worthwhile, though, but I did.

  42. Gurinder says:

    I am looking forward to download C#, I have already C++ installed. The problem I am facing at download step, installer crashes. Can some one please provide the downloaded C# (~30MB) file to me.

    It will be highly appreciated if some on able to do that.

    Thanx in advance.

  43. mikkie says:

    Hi! I do not speak English well, but i want to say – it is nice and cute site with cool design, but you need a RSS…

  44. I must give some of the Express Editions a try. Let&amp;#39;s start downloading right now…[Via Christa

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