What is "missing" in the Visual Studio 2008 Express Editions?

ComparisonVisual Studio-Express

Comparison Problem Overview

What is "missing" in the Visual Studio 2008 Express Editions?

In particular,

  • what functionality is not available?
  • what restrictions are there on its use?

Comparison Solutions

Solution 1 - Comparison

The major areas where Visual Studio Express lacks features compared to Visual Studio Professional:

  • No add-ins/macros
  • Some Win32 tools missing
  • No Team Explorer support
  • Limited refactoring support
  • Debugging is much more limited (particularly problematic for server development is no remote debugging)
  • Lack of support for setup projects
  • No report creation tools
  • No Office development support
  • No mobile platform support
  • Limited set of designers
  • Limited set of database tools
  • No code profiling or test framework support
  • No MFC/ATL support
  • No support for compiling C++ to 64-bit images (workaround is to install Windows SDK which is free)

NOTE: it is often said that the Express EULA does not permit commercial development - that is not true (Visual Studio Express FAQ Item 7)

Solution 2 - Comparison

There's a handy set of comparison charts on microsoft.com.

It depends on the particular express edition, of course (since there are several and they have different features). The limitations you're most likely to run into are source control integration (and TFS client license), debugging limitations, limited refactorings, no unit testing support, and limited designer support.

For completeness sake, here's a list of features that are in Visual Studio 2008 Standard Edition but are in none of the express editions:

  • Add-Ins
  • Macros and Macros IDE
  • Visual Studio Add-in project template
  • VSPackages
  • Wizards
  • ATL/MFC Trace Tool
  • Create GUID
  • Dotfuscator Community Edition
  • Error Lookup
  • Source Control Integration
  • Spy++
  • Team Explorer Integration
  • Team Foundation Server Client Access License
  • Visual Studio 2008 Image Library
  • Add-Ins/Macro Security options
  • Visual Studio Settings
  • Class Designer
  • Encapsulate Field Refactoring
  • Extract Interface Refactoring
  • Promote Local Variable to Parameter Refactoring
  • Remove Parameters Refactoring
  • Reorder Parameters Refactoring
  • Debugging Dumps
  • JIT Debugging
  • Mini-dumps
  • Multithreaded/Multiprocess Debugging
  • NTSD Command Support
  • Step-Into Web Services Debugging
  • CAB Project Project Template
  • Merge Module Project Template
  • Publish Web Site Utility
  • Setup Project Template
  • Setup Wizard Project Template
  • Smart Device CAB Project Template
  • Web Setup Project Template
  • Windows Installer Deployment
  • 64-bit Visual C++ Tools
  • Create XSD Schema from an XML Document
  • Reports Application Project Template
  • Visual Studio Report Designer
  • Visual Studio Report Wizard
  • Shared Add-in Project Template
  • ASP.NET AJAX Server Control Extender Project Template
  • ASP.NET AJAX Server Control Project Template
  • ASP.NET Reports Web Site project template
  • ASP.NET Server Control Project Template
  • ASP.NET Web Application Project Template
  • Generate Local Resources
  • WCF Service Host
  • WCF Service Library Project Template
  • WF Activity Designer
  • Custom Wizard Project Template
  • WF Empty Workflow Project Template
  • MFC ActiveX Control Project Template
  • MFC Application Project Template
  • MFC DLL Project Template
  • WF Sequential Workflow Console Application Project Template
  • WF Sequential Workflow Library Project Template
  • WF Sequential Workflow Service Library Project Template
  • WF State Machine Workflow Library Project Template
  • WF State Machine Workflow Designer
  • WF State Machine Workflow Service Library Project Template
  • WCF Syndication Service Library Project Template
  • Visual Studio Extensions for Windows Workflow Foundation Designer
  • Windows Forms Control Library Project Template
  • Windows Service Project Template
  • WF Workflow Activity Library Project Template
  • WPF Custom Control Library Project Template
  • WPF User Control Library Project Template
  • ASP.NET Server Control Item Template
  • COM Class Item Template
  • Configuration File Item Template
  • Frameset Item Template
  • Interface Item Template
  • CLR Installer Class Item Template
  • Local Database Cache Item Template
  • Module-Definition File Item Template
  • Nested Master Page Item Template
  • ATL Registration Script Item Template
  • MS Report Item Template
  • Report Wizard Item Template
  • .NET Resources File Item Template
  • Win32 Resource File Item Template
  • Static Discovery File (Web Services) Item Template
  • Transactional Component Item Template
  • Web Content Form Item Template
  • Windows Script Host Item Template
  • Windows Services Item Template
  • XML Schema Item Template

Solution 3 - Comparison

Here's comparison chart of editions

Edit: didn't realize this was for 2005, not 2008

Solution 4 - Comparison

Visual Studio 2008 Product Comparison

As far as I know there are no restrictions on its use, but I'm not a lawyer.

AviewAnew pointed out you can use Express Editions for commercial use: there are no licensing restrictions for applications built using Visual Studio Express Editions. See FAQ #7.

Solution 5 - Comparison

These are the most significant for me:

  • You cannot set breakpoints with a condition
  • Add-in support
  • Refactoring is very limited (rename, extract method)

Solution 6 - Comparison

MFC is the most important missing thing in my opinion.

Solution 7 - Comparison

No add-ins allowed

Solution 8 - Comparison

Other people have posted huge lists, but as a practical matter, speaking as someone who does mostly systems programming, the features I miss most when using the express edition are

  1. the thread-aware parts of the debugger,and

  2. the ability to open files with the built-in binary viewer.

If I did MFC programming more often I would probably miss the dialog designer as well.

Solution 9 - Comparison

One that is missing (which is nice to have) is:

> Source Control Integration > enables two > options: source control solution based > on the Source Control Plug-in API > (formerly known as the MSSCCI API), or > a source control VSPackage

This is particularly important especially if you're working with systems like Perforce where you must check out files before changing with them, particularly changing project settings for all team members.

Solution 10 - Comparison

This MSDN document should get you everything you need!

Solution 11 - Comparison

For Visual Studio 2008, the Express editions do not have the built-in testing features for one.

Solution 12 - Comparison

You can build MFC applications if you download the libraries in the Platform SDK. But there is no built in support for designing dialogs.

Solution 13 - Comparison

Add-ins are allowed in Visual Studio Express. The most notable one is straight from Microsoft: XNA Game Studio works as a Visual Studio Express add-in.

There's even a project type (maybe only available in the full Visual Studio) that lets you build your own Visual Studio Express add-ins!

Solution 14 - Comparison

Note that currently, you can't get F# in an Express edition, though I imagine that this is likely to change at some point in time.

There is a workaround - you install the Visual Studio Shell and F# CTP separately and they work together.

Solution 15 - Comparison

I had trouble with Visual Studio Express (C++) 2008 (with service pack 1) on Windows Vista, with debugging. Any time I did anything such as (a) break the program, (b) set focus from the app back to the IDE, (c) resume execution, the program hung for about 30 seconds. Task Manager showed "VSExpress.exe" consuming an entire CPU for the duration. Vista showed "Not responding" in the IDE's title bar during this time.

This was driving me bonkers so I bought a commercial copy of Visual Studio Professional 2008 ($150 from SoftwareSurplus) and this solved the problem.

Solution 16 - Comparison

You can't create Windows services for one.


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