Top 15 Things to love about Visual Studio 2008 Express

Visual Studio Express 2008 is now available for download!!


Our new Web site is!


Below are my top 15 things to love about Visual Studio Express

15. Free hosting for client-based Web sites with Popfly Explorer


Using the Popfly Explorer Add-On, you can now build and design Web pages using HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and Silverlight (even add existing Silverlight gadgets from Popfly) and publish them live to the Web for free. If you're looking for free ASP.NET hosting, the good folks at Verio have an offer for free hosting until January 2010!

14. Available in 9 localized languages and extensible for other languages (MUI Architecture)

An often overlooked feature, but Visual Studio Express is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Japanese, and Korean. Over the next couple of months, we'll ship all 9 localized versions of all four Express products (VB, C#, C++, VWD). In addition, in 2008, we redesigned the localization engine to support MUI which will enable our subsidiaries (or even customers) to localize Express into even more languages.

13. Multi-targeting or using VS 2008 for .NET Framework 2.0 Projects

Visual Studio 2008 is the first Visual Studio product that enables you to target multiple runtimes, so if your Web hosting company or your business only runs with .NET Framework 2.0, you can select 2.0 as your target Framework and it will still "just work" and even provide IntelliSense errors if you try to use something not available in 2.0 like LINQ.

12. Integrated C++ Platform SDK


One of the key pieces of feedback we got from C++ developers was that it was difficult to download and configure the Platform SDK (headers, libraries, and tools) to build native Windows applications. In Visual C++ Express 2008, we've integrated the Platform SDK directly so this is much easier than before and with thousands of new native Windows Vista APIs to play with, C++ developers have plenty of cool applications to build.

11. Great Data Support


[Visual Studio Express Database Designer]


[Visual Studio Express LINQ-to-SQL Designer]

Visual Studio 2008 Express includes a Database Designer (top picture), a View Designer, LINQ-to-SQL support (bottom picture), drag-and-drop data-binding for Windows Forms, support for SQL Compact Edition for VB and C# Express, as well as new ASP.NET controls for LINQ data sources.  All Visual Studio Express Editions also enable you to consume data from Web services as well as support for Windows Communication Foundation (WCF). Visual Web Developer Express also adding support for *creating* WCF applications.


10. Express Registration Freebies


When you register Visual Studio Express, you get lots of freebies (full list here) like:

  • Free Controls - Get free controls like the Telerik Rad Ribbon Bar (pictured above) to build Office 2007-style applications, as well as graphing controls from Graphics Server .NET, DevComponents BubbleBar, and more.
  • Free Images/Icons - Get 250 royalty free stock photography from Corbis and Windows Icons from IconBuffet Studio.
  • Free e-Books: Coming soon, you'll be able to download e-Books on Visual Basic and Visual C# 2008 Express.
  • Discounts - Discounts to home automation gear, Make magazine, Trossen micro-controllers and more.

After registering, go to to download your registration benefits.


9. Killer Content



In conjunction with the Express launch, we're also releasing a ton of new samples and resources including the Coding4Fun Developer Toolkit that adds support for Windows Vista features including Telephony (bottom picture) Mail, Calendar, Search, Text-to-Speech, Voice input, audio recording,  and much more in an easily consumable way for VB and C# developers.

We're also releasing a new, open source Windows Vista Peer-to-Peer chat and video application (top picture ) that enables you to chat and share pictures and video with friends anywhere in the world. As part of this application, we have some drag-and-drop controls to add chat to *any* WPF or Windows Forms application.

8. Improved Performance

While not as flashy as a P2P app, the team made significant performance improvements for things like the Visual Basic background compiler and C# IntelliSense on large projects that you'll appreciate as you start your next project.

7.  Built-in Support for ASP.NET AJAX and AJAX Controls


ASP.NET AJAX now ships in Visual Web Developer Express 2008 so you can easily do partial-page updates (updates that dynamically retrieve data from the server without reloading the whole page) by simply adding an UpdatePanel control. Best of all, you can reuse all of the ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit (separate download) to enable some RAD AJAX features including animation, drop shadows, rounded corners, and more.

6. Game Development Kit for C++



Another thing we are announcing today is a partnership with Game Creators which provides, for free the C++ Game Developers Kit (GDK) as well as the Dark Matter 1 set 2D/3D images and sounds.


5.  Windows Presentation Foundation


New to Visual Basic and Visual C# 2008 Express Editions is a visual designer and project templates for building Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)applications. WPF applications enable you to build beautiful, interactive applications that can easily use media, animation and 2D/3D graphics. Best of all, you can mix and match WPF controls with Windows Forms applications so you can build animation-heavy pieces of your application in WPF and add them to your Windows Forms application or, use data-centric Windows Forms controls like the DataGridView and add them to your WPF application.

4. New Web Designer and JavaScript tool


Built on the same engine that powers Expression Web, the Visual Web Developer Express designer includes a powerful design view with new features like a Split View to see HTML and the designer, CSS Styles and Properties Windows to design, preview, and apply styles.

The JavaScript includes improved IntelliSense, type inference, parameter IntelliSense, support for AJAX controls, improved debugging including visualizers for JavaScript data, and more.

3.  Tons of free learning content


With launch, we're also refreshing our Beginner Developer Learning Center (BDLC) with new videos including Getting Started Videos each of the four Express Edition products as well as tutorials on LINQ, WPF, and more. Over the coming months, we'll continue to add more and more content on Visual Studio 2008 Express.

2. LINQ and language enhancements


Visual Studio Express 2008 fully supports Language INtegrated Query (LINQ) which adds language query capabilities (similar to SQL) directly into the Visual Basic and C# languages. What that means is that you can query databases, XML files like RSS feeds, or in-memory objects all using a single syntax. Hand-in-hand with LINQ are a number of language enhancements that simplify working with .NET data types that really shine when working in tandem with LINQ queries. For more on LINQ support in Express, see my previous blog post.

1. It's FREE, you can use it for commercial use!

By this point I feel like a Cuisinart salesman, but you get free tools, free hosting on Popfly for Web pages and Visual Studio Express projects, free training from the BDLC, free controls and e-Books for registering Express, and even free samples/resources including the Coding4Fun Development Kit, the P2P toolkit, and the C++ Game Development Kit. 

Download now before we come to our senses 🙂

Comments (49)
  1. Did you see the post at

  2. Josh says:

    13. Multi-targeting or using VS 2008 for .NET Framework 2.0 Projects

    Visual Studio 2008 is the first Visual Studio product that enables you to target multiple runtimes, so if your Web hosting company or your business only runs with .NET Framework 2.0, you can select 2.0 as your target Framework and it will still "just work" and even provide IntelliSense errors if you try to use something not available in 2.0 like LINQ.

    Don’t you mean ‘kind of works’. Micrsoft missed the oppurtunity to make it just work.

  3. You’ve been kicked (a good thing) – Trackback from

  4. Mark Heath says:

    nice to see the express product line improving. I’m very pleased to hear about #12 & #11

    will we be able to develop Silverlight projects in express?

  5. Mark – Good question on Silverlight support, we are planning to release an add-on to Visual Web Developer Express that would provide Silverlight tooling support around summertime of next year.



  6. I didn't realise there was a whole bunch of free stuff that you got when registering an Express product

  7. Richard B says:

    Is it possible to produce a native x64 app/exe with VC++ 2008 Express ?

    The MSDN docs mention it is possible by installaing the Windows SDK, but I have tried this and cannot get it to work. Are there any step-by-step instructions on how to do this (including URL’s for the exact files/SDK’s that need to be downloaded) ?

    Thanks in advance!

  8. Ken says:

    How many of these things apply to Visual Studio 2008 Professional as well? Specifically item 10 (registration freebies).



  9. Am I able to install and use the C# Express and Web Developer Express simultaniously?

  10. Ken – You’ll need to install the Express Editions to get those benefits, but Express and Pro work side-by-side.

    Marco – Yes, you can install C# and VWD Express side-by-side.

  11. Andrew VDB says:

    Downloading it now

    it took two days !!!! T_T

    hope I can try it in saturday


    salut !!!

  12. redsolo says:

    Im still waiting to be amazed by the visual studio express. I havent seen any info that it contains support for unit testing, but i guess Express is not for real developers. Or perhaps that only shows that unit testing isnt a big thing in seattle.

  13. Andrew VDB says:

    Hi, before deleting my comment, at least you read it please

    I’m unable to register my visual studio express 2008

    I do register, but I don’t receive any mail confirmation

    I just installed it, why my wpf control is not showed by default which mean I have to add it


  14. Visual Studio 2008 with .NET Framework 3.5 , is the next generation of Microsoft’s award-winning development

  15. Visual Studio 2008 with .NET Framework 3.5 , is the next generation of Microsoft's award-winning

  16. Andrew VDB says:

    I do register, unable to get any of those benefit things

    I install it on two computer, the other works fine, the other one unable to install silverlight runtime, still no idea why

    after trying it, no hard coding yet but

    the feel of being forced

    to move to vista

    and buy expression blend

    visual studio for coder, expression blend for designer

    nah….should integrate it

    move to vista eh……..dunno………are we developer should force consumer to move ?

    intellisense faster, loading project slower

    hope will find something that make me happy…………..

  17. kev says:

    hey i installed Visual C# 2008 express studio, is there any game development kit for C#? XNA isnt compatible with this version 🙁

  18. Chris says:

    Is the ribbon bar controls free this time around? I just tried some of the registration benefits for vs2005, which did include that as well, but it was just a trial. Not much of a benefit…

  19. "Shut up and gimme my compiler!!"

  20. hey i installed Visual C# 2008 express edition, is there any free web testing tool?

  21. Chris,

    This is Telerik, the provider of the free RibbonBar. We are not sure that we will offer the Ribbon again this year (with the VS2008 Benefits), but the chances are high that we will.

    At any rate, the Ribbon which comes with the registration benefits for vs2005 is not trial – it is a fully functional control. In case you have troubles with it, please post in the Telerik Forums and we will help you out.

    Rob, Telerik

  22. real michaud says:

    is there any support for microsoft office built into vs2008?

  23. John says:

    The in-product documentation is a very sad hack job. Conceptual stuff is missing, sure, but so are references for classes and namespaces. It has about ten thousand broken links, too. Why ship this? Just fund MSDN servers and accept the increased traffic. That’s what happens anyway.

  24. Alvin says:

    Will Express editions support development of WF (3.5)applications?

  25. JJ says:

    The new features are of the chain!

  26. _ says:

    What is the size of the "Visual C++ Express 2008" download?

  27. Khaleel says:

    Can I use both Orcas and VS 2008 express on same machine?

  28. Yes, you can use VSTS and VS Express 2005 and 2008 all on the same machine.

  29. Mohamad Meqdadi says:

    great work sql cuz many problems for programmers , using new database language Linq will be positive addition and i see olso a great support of disigning databases thnx Microsoft 🙂 .

  30. Me says:

    Tell me what is original about this. All you did was copy Java, Adobe Flash and other companies then stamped "Microsoft" on it. Copy-cats.

  31. Jim Foye says:

    I’m looking forward to Visual Studio 2008 service pack 1, where I presume that the cursor movement and object selection problems introduced in the webforms designer will be fixed.

  32. Ganesh says:

    In Visual Studio 2008 Professional ,you get another neat feature of running unit tests!.

  33. Bob says:

    How many megabytes is the Visual C++ Express 2008 download?

  34. BizTalker says:

    Wake me when *any* version of Visual Studio 2008, Express or otherwise, supports BizTalk.  Until then, it’s dead to me.

  35. SW seeker says:

    Applications developed in VS2008 does not work on Windows server 2003. Gives invalid configuration file. But if we run the same application on any other windows OS, it works fine. Can anyone tell me whats the problem. Can it be fixed

  36. Barney.Parker says:

    Anyone got any idea how to get VS2K8Express registered?

    Mine ran for 30 days, then gives a splash screen with a link to register.  

    I click it, log in with my LiveID, then get a blank page…

    Tried mailing Microsoft, they just don’t reply….

    Tried Mailing Microsoft again, still no reply…..

    6 weeks since it first gave up the ghost, and still nothing…..

    Is there no way of registering manually?  Don’t MS know computers don’t act as predictably as they’re supposed to?

  37. Barney,

    This is most likely a result of trying to register with a Windows Live ID that has yet to be validated. To make sure a you ID has been validated, go to and log into account services and verify that the email address has been verified (what Live ID does is send you a confirmation email to the email address you used to register that you must click on the link to validate). Alternatively, you should be able to try to register again using another Windows Live ID that has already been verified.

    Hope this helps,


    PS – If it doesn’t, post more information to which is the installation and registration support forum

  38. LazyDeveloper says:

    Wow,  i cant even imagine that vs can be better then vs2005, but it can!(ahuet beru dve)

    real thx man for this nice stuff =)

  39. One of the first Silverlight-enabled development centres for Visual Studio 2008 has been launched. Some

  40. muhammad aftab alam says:

    its ok that .net framework is providing many new features but their advancement are very slow as there are lots of other utilities solving the same task………i consider they should increase the pace of rapid development of up comming need of the developers……………

  41. Dennis says:

    I have been attempting to get them to validate my email address for months now. For some reason, they do not seem capable of actually sending me an email. It is probably because it’s not a microsoft owned domain name….

  42. Sandeep says:

    I have installed a  VS 2008 PRof version alongwith the product documenattion. However, on pressing F1 oa a keyword, I get an "Information not found" page. I tried to repair, re-install and even un-installed and re-installed VS but the problem persists. All repair, re-install, install goes off without a hitch – Sucess is reported each time !

    Can someone help ?

  43. Chris says:

    If I downloaded some DLL files off the codeplex website for a control that I want to use (a autohide/pinto control group)

    How do I go from DLL to a control that I can place on my form?  

    Can this be done with the Express Edition?  (C#)

  44. Bob says:

    How many megabytes is the Visual C++ Express 2008 download?

    By the way, I originally asked that question on February 22, 2008 (scroll up), and nobody has posted an answer.

  45. Hey Bob,

    Per Wes Hutchins from the Expres team, the C++ Express IDE without the .NET Framework is 79MB, this includes all pre-reqs like VC redist, headers, Win32 libs, and other SDK tools.

  46. Arun says:

    Please let me know that, what are the important features not supported by the Express edition (Microsoft Visual Studio 2008).

  47. Richard says:

    I cannot believe some of the negative comments here. I have worked in IT for many years and remember having to write my C and Java programs with the UNIX vi editor (look it up).

    These products are superior quality development platforms with so many excellent features that it is easy to write good quality programs. And the number one feature which so often gets overlooked is that they cost ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

    And no, I do not work for Microsoft, but I do recognise quality when I see it.

  48. alawi says:

    i love visual studio even before i learn it.

    thanks for microsoft, i wish i could reoward this great company that serves the humanity around the world.

    if i become a successful programmer, i will do my best to serve microsoft and the humanity.

    but now, i can only pray that Allah(God) protect it and make it more successful

  49. Abhishek Agrawal says:

    Gr8 stuff. Could please post detailing of some interesting facts like LINQ-TO-SQL view.

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