Visual Studio should be part of Windows

My good friend Dan writes a post about why Visual Studio shouldn't be part of Windows, in response to a post by Jeroen.

I agree with all the reasons that Dan lists, and would like to add two of my own.

The first is that vista is already big enough. Strike that, Vista is already 8x bigger than it should be, from an agility standpoint. Adding in another application only makes that worse.

But there's a more important reason.

I'm part of a team that creates Windows Movie Maker, a very nice free downloadable video editor that runs on Windows XP. We have the same sort of discoverability problem that Visual Studio Express has - people don't know that Microsoft creates such a product, so they don't know that they can go and download it.

Well, actually, that's not quite true. It is true that the vast majority of people don't know there is a free product known as Movie Maker. It is false that they don't know that they can download it, because Movie Maker is part of SP2.

Discoverability is not about whether something is on your machine or not. It's whether the information is available to you through a source that you will pay attention to.

The 16-year old kid that might turn into a great programmer won't find VS through spelunking his Windows installation. He won't find it through a menu pick.

He'll find it through the message he gets from his computer instructor, through the chat message from his gamer pal, or through the post on BoingBoing or Digg. Or maybe through the splash screen on a game that he downloads...

Comments (8)

  1. Rosyna says:

    Has anyone brought of the fact that OS X includes its development tools on the OS X DVD? I mean, the DVD that includes OS X for 4 architectures (ppc, ppc64, x86, x86_64).

  2. Chris L says:

    It’s nice that Macs come with XCode, but it’s not installed by default, and it’s out of date, so you have to go download the whole ~800 MB update anyway.

  3. RichB says:

    I agree that most of this stuff should not be installed by default. Microsoft is really missing a trick in Vista by not putting the resources into creating a package management system. Something like Debian’s .deb/APT package management system would:

    a) Allow security updates to be more finely grained

    b) Provide a one-stop install system, rather than the 3 currently in use

    c) Allow for automatic updates through the same system

    d) Allow people to discover (via searching) for the many products Microsoft make available via

    e) Reduce the install size/security surface area of Vista

    Ubuntu Linux (created by an ex-cosmonaught) can do it, why can’t Vista ("we’re spending the equivalent of the apollo moon landings on Vista").

    Even Google have a package management system ( and they don’t even have an operating system (yet…..)

  4. Paul L says:

    Your comments about Movie Maker made me think about OS X too. Since I use both platforms daily, it’s interesting that I never even think about iMovie–which kinda reinforces your information availability thought. It’s just there and works. I plug in my camera it comes up and I do what I want. The key here is that I take an action "plug in camera" and the application does exactly what I’d expect, it comes up and wants me to import my movies. Movies Maker strives to be simple but in my experience you have to know it exists and then start it up first.

    Conversely, I think developers are very used to the concept of going to a vendor and downloading a dev environment. If I need to work on Java it’s no problem to download eclipse or netbeans and get going.

  5. The discoverability is compounded by Windows Download.  It must be very off putting for somebody outside of IT.  Try browsing Windows Download for Visual Studio Express.  Start at Development Resources.  What you get is a list of 3,030 (that’s right!) low level components.  If you pick Visual Studio .NET at the bottom of the page you get 343 low level components instead.

    For people outside of IT, there needs to be a way to browse complete applications, without all the patches, add ons, hotfixes, documentation updates, rollups, service packs, CTPs, little utilities, etc.

  6. Dos came with basic .. so should Windows..

    I grwe up in a generation of Apple II , Atari, and Commodore enthusiast writing programs. Web pages are nice, but I see them more like Word documents than actual programs, okay twice as hard and pretty as a Word document but still very consumer.

    Growing up I used my powerfull "Commodore 64" to outwork other students. Ninety percent of the top students turned in word processed papers when everyone else turned in smeared pencil and pen junk. Only two poor students in the top thirty students didn’t have access to computers and their families employeers soon allowed them to use office computers.

    I didn’t just take Physics, Chemistry and Calc. I wrote simulations until I knew the subject as well as the Nobel commitee.  

    I see studensts going back to turning in whatever they can cough up.

    Add Visual Studio to the Windows DVD! YES IT SHOULD BE A DUAL LAYER DVD!

    Then add the last version of Word while your at it..

  7. Doug says:

    Windows (any version) comes with:



    Install .NET (preinstalled with some versions of Windows) and you get:

    C# compiler

    J# compiler

    VB.Net compiler


    Still missing an IDE and a debugger, though.

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