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Microsoft's Free Visual Studio Express Editions

Posted on Friday, January 06, 2006 at 11:31 AM by Randall

Microsoft has decided to provide free, downloadable editions of their Visual Studio Express (.NET) products for a limited time, but there is really no rush as they will be free to download until early November of 2006. These products all require Windows 2000 Service Pack 4, Windows XP, Windows Media Center, or Windows Server 2003 to run. The following products are available for download:

  • * Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition - A powerful programming environment for the 2005 version of Visual Basic. "Productivity that is ideal for first time or casual Windows programming."
  • * Visual C# 2005 Express Edition - A programming environment for the 2005 version of Microsoft's "Java Killer" language, C#. "A great combination of power and productivity for the Windows developer."
  • * Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition - A programming environment for a .NET version of C++, although you supposed can download an addon that will allow creation of standard Windows programs as well. "Horsepower with a finer degree of control than other Express Editions."
  • * Visual J# 2005 Express Edition - J# is Microsoft's .NET version if the JAVA language. This programming environment is mainly for those who want to convert JAVA programs to run on .NET.
  • * Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition - An environment for coding VB.NET web applications and web sites. Includes a localhost only web server for testing one's web sites and web applications.
  • * SQL Server 2005 Express Edition - A scaled down, but fully capable version of Microsoft's SQL Server. While the memory and processor limits mean that it cannot serve as a production server for large scale applications, it is great for testing and small scale production. It can be used with all of the above products and is especially useful for testing VB.NET web sites and web applications.

If you had the Beta version of any of these applications installed, you will need to uninstall them first. Microsoft provides an uninstall tool to do most of this for you.I found the beta versions of these programs to be annoying slow, I'm happy to say that the final versions seem to be mush faster. Note that these are large downloads. You download a 2-3 meg installer for each application and each then downloads a 30-80 meg package.. There is an optional help documentation download of over 200 megs.

With my standard speed Grande Communications cable connection, they downloaded at quite a good clip. That is, all but one of them did. For some reason one poked along at 120 KB/S while all the others downloaded at 500 KB/S or so. I haven't had a chance to play with these programs much -- and I don't do much Windows programming, but they have one of the nicest integrated programming environments I've ever used. If your web site runs on a Windows server, the Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition and the SQL Server 2005 Express Edition are probably must haves.

[Originally posted November 10, 2005]

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