What’s new with Visual Studio 2008 Express editions?

Since we introduced the Express Editions of our products with Visual Studio 2005, there have been millions of downloads of the Express products by people around the world.  The original intent of the Express products were to enable an easy and fun way of learning to program and create cool, fun applications.  Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned hobbyist, we wanted to make the Visual Studio Express products ideal for your needs.


With the VS 2008 editions of Express, we are improving the offerings on a variety of different fronts – be it for Windows development or Web development.  We have also added some interesting features for your data-driven application development needs.


Included in both C# and VB Express, the WPF designer allows you to build either WPF Windows Applications or WPF Browser applications in much the same way you create Windows Forms today by dragging controls onto your designer surface, editing XAML attributes in the properties window, and enabling an instant preview of your application when you edit XAML in split design/code view.  With Visual C++ Express 2008, we have added support for Win32 development right out of the box.  No more large download or IDE tinkering is required in order to build native Windows applications. 

Right away you will notice the first major improvement in Visual Web Developer Express 2008, the newly redesigned Web page designer.  Incorporating many new features such as rich support for CSS editing, improved XHTML Standards compliance, and split code/design view, the new designer enables you to rapidly develop beautiful HTML and AJAX-based Web Sites without much Web development experience.   

Jscript Intellisense and debugging has been vastly improved in Visual Web Developer 2008 providing a much better development experience for those wishing to build AJAX-based applications.  Visual Web Developer also improves upon the JScript debugging experience by enabling instant breakpoint setting on your ASP.NET page, providing a much richer type information window, and adding the useful ability to step into both client-side and server-side code using a single debugger session!

The O-R Designer is a mapping tool that allows you to create query-able .NET objects from SQL Server Express tables or stored procedures.  It allows the user to quickly enable LINQ to SQL querying with only a few lines of code.  SQL Server Compact Edition 3.5 that is a part of VC# and VB Express enables you to create client-side data-driven applications who want the power of SQL Server in a light-weight way.


Comments (50)

  1. Anjanesh says:

    Finally native Win32 development without PSDK tweaks ! Thanx.

    Btw, does this mean native Win64 development too ?

    MFC included ?

  2. davidacoder says:

    What would really be cool: Allow the Express line to access the codeplex servers. I.e. allow integration of the TFS client into Express, but only for access of the codeplex servers. That way you guys would have an incredibly powerful, free toolset for open source development, beginning to end. It would be a superior way of demonstrating that Microsoft is happy to contribute real value to open source projects (which in turn contribute to the overal health of the .Net ecosystem).

  3. Dan says:

    I like the old Visual Studio better. The Express version leaves a lot to be desired.

  4. johnmont says:


    We looked at enabling the Express products to connect to Codeplex as you describe. It’s definitely an intriguing feature for a lot of the more advanced Express users. But as we talked with more and more customers about what they wanted in the product, it was clear that we should focus our energies on making sure we support the latest advancements in the platform like WPF and LINQ and keep the download size as small as we could.


    John, GPM, Visual Studio Express

  5. Bedava says:

    "I like the old Visual Studio better. The Express version leaves a lot to be desired."

    Ok someones missing the point of the epxress editions completely, they’re not supposed to compete with the real visual studio… THEIR EXPRESS EDITIONS …. that are FREE…. of course hteir going to leave you wanting more… they leave u wanting the full verison of visual studio

    you can’t say u don’t like the express because it’s not as complete as visual studio.net

  6. johnmont says:

    @Davidacoder (again)

    In the category of "d’oh," my boss reminded me that my team ships Popfly Explorer (http://www.popfly.com/Overview/Explorer.aspx), which is an add-on to Express that enables you to upload projects to Popfly. While not Codeplex (e.g. it’s not really a source code control system), it is shared storage in the sky that is accessible from Visual Studio Express.

    John, GPM, Popfly (and VS Express)

  7. AndyB says:

    "Ok someones missing the point of the epxress editions completely, they’re not supposed to compete with the real visual studio"

    I think he was referring to VC6 🙂

  8. Mike Ashford says:

    Somasegar, this is kind of a silly question, but I was just wondering, what is your first name? 🙂

  9. Angel Arcoraci says:

    Is mobile development going to be supported by the express edition ?

  10. TRJ says:

    Does anyone use Express for commercial purposes? For exampl, a one or two person software shop that develops and ships product. Or is that too much responsiblity to put on the Express products?

  11. Angel Arcoraci says:

    As far as I know, Express edition CAN be used for comercial products.

    From Visual Studio express faq:

    Can I use Express Editions for commercial use?

    Yes, there are no licensing restrictions for applications built using the Express Editions.



  12. Somasegar says:

    Hi Mike,

    From where I come from (State of TamilNadu in India), we don’t have a notion of 2 names.  People’s names have two components – an initial that is the first letter of their Dad’s name (in my case S.) and a name which is the given name (Somasegar).

    So, growing up I went by S. Somasegar.  


  13. AA says:

    Would be nice to have a bit of Silverlight integeration and the inclusion of ajax controls in VWD.  

  14. AA says:

    Mobile dev-yes, sems you can install a Compact SQL framework.

  15. Time for another weekly roundup of news that focuses on .NET and general development related content

  16. Aravindan Chandrasekaran says:

    In what way the vs 2008 is going to compete with Java and php (Technology based)

  17. srinivasan Mohan says:

    When compare to php, aspx files are very slow while uploading when using VS 2005 is there any new technology included in VS 2008

  18. WebDevTools says:

    Hi Srinivasan Mohan,

    Can you describe in more detail the steps that you find to be slow in VS2005?  I can let you know if we have done anything to improve what you are seeing.  Feel free to contact me directly at omark-at-microsoft-dot-com and I’ll take a look at slowness you are experiencing and see if we can do anything to improve it.



    Group Program Manager

    Visual Web Developer

  19. Kurt Euler says:

    Somasegar- With the new web design tools being added to VWD 2008, how is Microsoft positioning it with respect to the paid-for Expression product. What types of design work will one be able to do with Expression that can’t be done with VWD 2008?

  20. WebDevTools says:

    Hi Kurt Euler,

    The Visual Web Developer 2008 product is focused at developers writing ASP.NET applications using managed code (VB & C#), and Expression Web is focused primarily at professional web designers.  In order to enable good workflow for designers and developers working on the same application, the two products share several technologies.  As an example, Expression Web and Visual Web Developer 2008 share the same design surface for HTML editing so that two products can round trip web pages in a seamless fashion.

    The two products also have quite a few distinct features for their respective target audiences.  Below is an example of some web designer focused features that Expression Web contains which are not available in Visual Web Developer 2008:

    1.      Custom website level reports for CSS, broken links & other site information

    2.      Ability to visually integrate data into web pages using XSL language

    3.      Image tracing

    4.      Picture editing tools

    5.      Ability to draw tables

    6.      Layout table tools and task panes

    7.      Advanced, HTML-oriented Find and Replace

    8.      Spell checker

    9.      Quick Tag Editor

    10.  Behaviors library

    11.  Frameset editing

    12.  Image map tools

    13.  Previewing pages in predefined fixed sizes

    In the future, as we continue to update both products the features we build will reflect the differences in core audience.  At the same time we will continue to promote sharing of some technologies to enable the two products to work very well together.

    You can also learn more about each product by looking at the online tutorials available for each:

    Expression Web


    VWD 2005 (this content will be update for VS2008 upon its release)


    Hopefully this clarifies how VWD 2008 and Expression Web provide different capabilities.

    –Omar Khan

    Group Program Manager

    Visual Web Developer

  21. Sys64738 says:

    Dear Sirs,

    I’ve appreciated *a lot* the VB2008 Express Edition. But I’d have two questions:

    #1 – When using WPF designer in VB2008 Express Edition, is it possible to choose e.g. a brush color from an /ad hoc/ dialog box, or must we enter that in hex values #AARRGGBB ?

    #2 –  Why don’t you add the class diagram designer in the Express Edition?



  22. anonymous says:

    1.  Pls include x64 compilers in 2008 Express.

    2.  Pls include MFC and ATL in 2008 Express.

  23. Sys64738 says:

    The Express Edition is a very good *learning* tool, IMHO.

    If they would add MFC and ATL in Express, people could learn MFC and ATL, as well.

    And I think that the Express Edition licensing could be changed, e.g. you can use Express (with MFC and ATL included) for learning purposes only; you can’t develop commercial software with Express. If you want to develop commercial software, buy the Standard license.

    In this way, you can make Express more effective as a learning tool.

    Just my 0.02


  24. Eric Hart says:

    Is the 2008 version of VWD W3C compliant in terms of HTML 4, XHTML & CSS 2?

    I ask as from what I have read over the last 12 months it would seem that lack of W3C compliance is by far the most common complaint that I have come across wit yregards to MS products.

    I can assume that MS is well aware of this, yet when I scan the 2008 release notes I don’t see any ‘headlines’ of W3C compliance, simply ‘more compliant’. Is this not just a ploy to prop up the falling market share of IE?

    As the W3C is gathering authority amongst large, particular government departments, anything that is not 100% compliant will not be accepted.

    I for one have been a MS software developer for longer then I care to state, but when I ventured into web technologies it broke my heart to have to leave my MS comfort zone.


    Eric Hart

  25. Jithin Rao says:

    So for MFC development with VC++ 2008 Express Edition we need to download a package????

  26. Andrew VDB says:


    do you know if


    is so damn slow……………….

    (reading 976kb with lot of columns and rows)

    hope this fixed

  27. David Berg [MSFT] says:


    We did a lot of performance work on XML in VS2008; however, I don’t know if it would impact your situation or not.  Can you send more details to DevPerf@Microsoft.com? Be sure to let us know what performance you’re seeing, what you expect, which OS you’re using and which version of MSXML.


    David Berg

    Microsoft Developer Division Performance Engineering Team

  28. Harry says:

    After the Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0 Compiler, which is

    nearly 10 years old (and I use this today and every

    day !),  my biggest hope is that the Version 2008

    supports again the Win32-API in the MSDN-knowledge-base.

    Good Luck !


  29. Victor says:


    Do you have a clear, complete and unambiguous comparison between different editions of Visual Studio 2008?

    Thank you.

  30. Lorn says:

    I am glad that Microsoft finally started providing some usable free development tools for Windows via the Express releases. In my humble opinion, it was always embarrassingly lacking, especially given what nice free open source tools are out there now (eg SharpDevelop, MySQL).

    Also, it is good that VC Express now supports native Windows apps without all the surprising and disappointing tweaking 2005 required. I suspect they made it difficult because Microsoft really wants people to switch over to C# DOT NET. But I think ideally people should switch because .NET offers so much and is a good technical solution, not because of other tactics. When 2005 Express required all those tweaks, it really did not create a good impression of Microsoft. It made me realize that at some point MS will invent something new (hey, VB/COM used to be the big thing!) and would then start to make it hard for people to do things in DOT NET.

    At work I deal with a lot of heritage code, so there is little chance of switching to .NET any time soon. And a lot of companies are in that situation.

    It would be nice if Microsoft firmly supports and adheres to recognized open standards, and continues to support their older technologies. They sometimes leave doubts about that, even though it is in their business interest and will make it more likely that companies who have spent hundreds of man years using older MS technologies will use newer MS technologies for future work. Only companies with a monopoly dont care about such things and such monopolgies are bad for consumers.

    Regarding DOT NET, it also concerned me that MS copyrighted some of the NET API leaving MONO and those who use it in a questionable state. Though I gather as a result of whats been happening in the EU they recently agreed to not sue anybody over it.

  31. Eddy Leong says:

    I’m a VB6 user and when I come across the VB2008 express I’m having problem with connecting the program to MySQL. I have tried may ways from the net but then there is nothing helps on this issue. Anyone out there dealing with MySQL please help….

  32. JenisysJohn says:

    Do the Express editions allow creation of Workflow applications using Workflow Foundation?  If so, what do I need to do to enable a Workflow application, with Activities in the toolbox?



  33. @JenisysJohn

    The Express editions do not include the designers to you to create workflows using Workflow Foundation.


  34. Sean says:

    I’m using vb.net express to develop commercial music applications for guitar and bass…

    However, first we had to band together in the forums to create a class so we could access the midi functions in a computer…

    And why include in VB.net a timer that’s so inaccurate?  

    Maybe, you could include a killer timer in the next release that works like the old one but is as accurate as the multimedia timers?

    My 10 cents,


  35. Crystal Reports are still not supported in VWD 2008. Can we have some hope in future?

  36. WebDevTools says:

    Hi Virtual Web Symphony,

    Crystal Reports is only available in the full Visual Studio product versions, and it is not included in the free Visual Studio Express editions.  

    At this time, we do not have any plans to add Crystal Reports to the Visual Studio Express editions.

    Omar Khan

    Product Unit Manager

    Visual Web Developer

  37. Madhu says:

    how to include or install mfc in visual studio 2008 express edition . Im trying to build a vc++ solution file (emule) using vc++ 2008 express but there is an error like it requires mfc include file to build this application

  38. vcblog says:


    Unfortunately developing MFC applications with the VS 2008 Express Edition is not a supported scenario. We hear that people would like MFC in the Express Edition and we will consider adding to a future Express edition (or adding support for adding installing it afterward installing an Express SKU).


    Damien Watkins

    Visual C++

  39. icha says:


    I would like to know how to install crystal report in visual studio 2008 express edition? What version of crystal report is compitible? And is there any open source crystal report installer?

    thank you



  40. Somasegar says:

    Hi Icha,

    As Omar Khan (who runs our web tools team) mentioned earlier:

    Crystal Reports is only available in the full Visual Studio product versions, and it is not included in the free Visual Studio Express editions.  

    At this time, we do not have any plans to add Crystal Reports to the Visual Studio Express editions.


  41. Brian says:

    I have a full version of Crystal Reports XI and have downloaded VB Express 2008.  Is it possible to integrate these two?  If so, how?

  42. scottno says:

    Hi there, Brian. The Visual Studio Express products don’t support 3rd-party package/add-in integration.  In order to integrate with Crystal Reports, you’ll need to have a version of Visual Studio Standard or higher. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

    Scott Nonnenberg

    PM, Visual Studio Languages Team

  43. Ray Schmidt says:

    I would also like to throw my hat in the ring to request for MFC to be added to the Express version.  I’m a self taught hobbyist and have a difficult time developing without the help of MFC.

  44. Eug says:

    Am new to VS.i have just installed VS 2008 Express edition. Am installing Web Platform but having issues with the site info with specified physical path.How do i resolve this? can i overwrite as prompted by the default website option??

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