Great news everyone! VS2008 Beta 2 has been just released and you may download it and installed it on your computer. Beta 2 previews two major improvements in VC++ Express for VS2008, about which I am very excited about. This is why I have decided to briefly mention them on my blog.
The first change is that with VC++ Express 2008 Beta 2 you are not asked anymore to download 1 GB Platform SDK in order to build Windows applications that use Win32 API. Once you download VC++ Express, it is going to installs a complete set of Windows headers and libraries from Windows Vista SDK. They are installed by default during the second step after installation of .Net Framework 3.5. This is the same set of headers and libraries that all other versions of Visual Studio install on your hard drive. In addition, VC++ IDE has all standard wizards for creating Windows applications, DLLs and static libraries. We are also able to keep download size of VC++ Express for 2008 small, actually even smaller that size of VC++ Express for VS2005. The trick is that documentation and samples are now part of separate package and we used the space for including Windows SDK. Isn’t it a great change?
The second change is not as big as the first one but it is still helpful to you. You may now package your applications together with DLLs and manifests for CRT library within your application local folder. No need to build MSI out of MSMs using WiX or download and install 3MB of VCRedist.EXE. Just copy a corresponding folder with CRT library from \vc\redist folder into your application local folder and you can now run your application on another computer. VC++ 2005 Express does not install CRT DLLs into \vc\redist folder and you had to either follow steps describe in this post on my blog or download and install VCRedist.EXE. Copying folder into one folder from vc\redist to your application folder is much easier than either building MSI with WiX or searching on the web, downloading and installing VCRedist.EXE. Yet another fix to what is a big problem to VC++ 2005 Express.
Now you may have some questions on your mind. And I will try to predict what those are and made an attempt to answer them in this post also. The first question may be on whether one should expect ATL and MFC be included with VC++ Express in the future. At this moment, I can only say that I am aware of discussions about this change. However I am not aware of any concrete plans for this change and surely nothing changes for VS2008. Another question may be about plans for including VCRedist.EXE into VC++ Express. For this I can say that the plan is to keep page from which VCREdist.EXE can be downloaded rather including into VC++ Express install. If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave it in comments or send me email. Otherwise stay tuned and check VC Blog for any other announcements of future changes in VC++. For now, go ahead and download VC++ 2008 Express Beta2 or other versions of VS2008 Beta 2 and try it out.