But is it free forever?
November 9, 2005 6:43 AM   Subscribe

Free Visual Studio Express Is Microsoft suddenly feeling generous, or are they just trying to further improve market share? (It's the latter).
posted by dsword (32 comments total)
 
Charging for an IDE is just stupid.
posted by delmoi at 6:46 AM on November 9, 2005


They're facing pressure from small developers moving to other platforms with free development tools, likely.
posted by Rothko at 6:50 AM on November 9, 2005


I haven't looked this over closely yet, but if MS is giving stuff away for free it can't be all bad.
posted by spazzm at 6:50 AM on November 9, 2005


It's free for 1 year, according to the site. Afterwards it's like U$50.
posted by signal at 7:05 AM on November 9, 2005


Without developers, Microsoft's closed source money trap begins to weaken. Not only are there less application written in Win32 languages ( C#, VB) but there are less 'must have' applications that are Windows only. Developers are the key to Microsoft's future and market domination. Hence the Ballmer monkey dance. Imagine if Microsoft patented some of the TCP/IP stack, and you can see what a benefit it would be to control the base of technologies.

At least, this is what I read on Slashdot like three years ago.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 7:08 AM on November 9, 2005


Until November 7, 2006, we are promotionally discounting the downloadable versions of Express to free. This doesn’t mean that the product turns off after a year, but rather that as long as you download the product before November 7, 2006, you can get it for free and you can use it forever.

Seems pretty straightforward to me.
posted by bap98189 at 7:09 AM on November 9, 2005


Does Visual Studio Rot the Mind?

By Charles Petzold, the guy who authored quite a few very popular books about programming for Windows.

I'm rather surprised at this bit from the VS Express FAQ: "[T]here are no licensing restrictions for applications built using the Express Editions." Usually when Microsoft releases something for "hobbyists, students, and novice developers" it's under terms that mean you need to buy the full version to release applications you develop in the IDE.
posted by Godbert at 7:11 AM on November 9, 2005


I haven't looked this over closely yet, but if MS is giving stuff away for free it can't be all bad.

Remember when they started giving Internet Explorer away for free... it all went downhill from there.
posted by twistedonion at 7:18 AM on November 9, 2005


With their C# initiative competing directly with java, they really need a free IDE. Eclipse is the defacto standard java IDE, beating out almost all commercial offerings, so much so that open source java projects are starting to ship with eclipse project files. Microsoft is doing some things right IMHO, as the newer versions of the C# language really excel where java is lacking. As an aside, I've installed Microsoft's C# visual studio express, and they want you to create a passport account and jump through a few hoops to remove a 30-day trial mode.
posted by crunchyk9 at 7:35 AM on November 9, 2005


Isn't this free (formerly "Express") version crippled in some way compared to the full version?
posted by snoktruix at 8:03 AM on November 9, 2005


Isn't this free (formerly "Express") version crippled in some way compared to the full version?

http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/express/support/faq/

How are Express Editions different from the rest of the Visual Studio and SQL Server Editions?

Express Edition products are designed for hobbyists, students, and novice developers. As such, they lack the full breadth of features found in higher-end Visual Studio and SQL Server Editions. They are designed specifically for scenarios common to the hobbyist, student, and novice developer. Each Express Edition includes targeted documentation that will help the beginning programmer quickly learn the concepts required to build more advanced applications. The user interfaces are significantly streamlined to ensure that extraneous features do not interfere with the learning process. If you later decide that you do need additional features available in the higher-end editions of Visual Studio and SQL Server, you can seamlessly upgrade your code and skills.
posted by prak at 8:19 AM on November 9, 2005


It's pretty simple. Microsoft's in a bit of a bind because their competition in this arena is not only free, but popular. So they figure if they can get young developers started on Visual Studio, they'll get those same young developers hooked on Microsoft technologies like C# rather than free ones.

To their credit, visual studio is a nice piece of software, or at least it was a few years ago when I last used it, before I switched to Java and Perl as my main languages.
posted by callmejay at 8:28 AM on November 9, 2005


Switching back to Visual Studio after a year of using Eclipse is downright painful. Eclipse is a dream to use (once you jack up its available memory). I hadn't realized how useful the refactoring and navigation tools are. Using Visual Studio is like blindfolding yourself and stapling one of your hands to your Herman Miller chair.
posted by krunk at 8:28 AM on November 9, 2005


Sun has just announced that Sun Java Studio Creator 2004Q2 (full license) and Sun Java Studio Enterprise 8 (full license) are both now free
posted by srboisvert at 8:37 AM on November 9, 2005


It's free for 1 year, according to the site. Afterwards it's like U$50.

They clarified... the download is free for one year. Once you have it, you can use it forever. However, if you do not download it and, say, a year and a half from now decide you want it, it will cost $50.
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:51 AM on November 9, 2005


And if you want the registration-free versions, just download the CD images.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:56 AM on November 9, 2005


Even Apple, which is notorious for squeezing every last dollar from their customers, started giving away (really good) dev tools with OS X. I've started using VisualStudio.NET for a .NET project (Is there any way to issue a build command some other way? I love my BBEdit + SMB...), and my constant feeling is, "they charge money for this???"
posted by mkultra at 8:58 AM on November 9, 2005


Using Visual Studio is like blindfolding yourself and stapling one of your hands to your Herman Miller chair.

Most developers would disagree... Visual Studio is actually quite pleasant to use.
posted by Elpoca at 8:59 AM on November 9, 2005


It's interesting to note that applications produced with this version will run only on platformswith a specific version of .NET installed (2.0).
posted by IronLizard at 9:01 AM on November 9, 2005


Developers, Developers, Developers.
Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers!
whhoo!

hmm, google should make their own javascript development IDE, develop a GUI/SQL toolbox, hosting plans, and productize it.

cuz right now "AJAX"/"Web 2.0" development is pretty old-school, at least on OS X.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:11 AM on November 9, 2005


The open-source stuff is getting pretty good. Linux and its development tools aren't (yet) as polished as Microsoft or Apple products are, and in all probability never will be.

However, what you trade off in polish, you sometimes (often?) gain in power. You also, of course, remove yourself very neatly from the cycle of forced upgrades Microsoft is so famous for. And THAT is what really scares them.

The important part of open source isn't that it's free-no-price, although that's the selling point that gets a lot of people started with it. (since you have, after all, zero commitment if you don't like it.) Rather, it's that it's free-no-chains... you're no longer bound by nasty license terms or locked into any particular vendor.

Microsoft, of course, loves to confuse the issue... they're taking advantage of the fact that "free" has more than one meaning. With this release (and in many other ways), they're attacking the price meaning. But, ultimately, it's probably the liberty meaning that will break their monopoly status. And that terrifies them.

I'm NOT suggesting that they'll go out of business or that Linux or the BSDs will ever really dominate desktops. (Although MacOS is awfully nice... it might have a shot.) But I do think it will break the monopoly... it will give people a valid escape hatch if they don't like the draconian licensing terms Microsoft likes so much, or if they want off the upgrade treadmill.

Free Visual Studio is, I think, a salvo in a losing war.
posted by Malor at 9:12 AM on November 9, 2005


The beta versions were free too. It seemed like a pretty decent IDE for really easy C#/WinForms development.
posted by smackfu at 9:18 AM on November 9, 2005


I haven't looked this over closely yet, but if MS is giving stuff away for free it can't be all bad.

Microsoft would have to pay me, and probably threaten me to get me to voluntarily use their software.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:22 AM on November 9, 2005


Most developers would disagree... Visual Studio is actually quite pleasant to use.

I've used Visual Studio since version 6, and thought it was good until I used Eclipse, then I realized what a steaming turd it is.

Here are some things that Eclipse has that VS2003 doesn't:
- refactoring (renaming, extract interface, extract local variable...)
- find references
- intelligent quick fixes
- navigation (ctrl-click on functions to jump to their definition)
- full CVS support (Visual SourceSafe is a debacle)
- about a million other things that make you wonder how you ever coded before Eclipse
posted by krunk at 10:02 AM on November 9, 2005


krunk, fwiw, all the bullet points you mentioned are part of visual studio 2005. method extraction, do-it-yourself refactoring scriptlets, things like that.

Not evangelising, just noting that some of that stuff is exactly what they're trying to hit on with the 2005 suite.
posted by verb at 10:24 AM on November 9, 2005


krunk, fwiw, all the bullet points you mentioned are part of visual studio 2005. method extraction, do-it-yourself refactoring scriptlets, things like that

Yeah, I'm hoping it won't suck as hard as 2003. I can't believe they went over 2 years without providing even a single patch to Visual Studio to fix several well-known bugs (especially with the visual form layout tools).

I got 2005 off MSDN this week, but haven't had a chance to try it, since the current WinFX release isn't compatible with the final version of the .NET Framework 2.0.

I heard that MS is making a replacement to SourceSafe... anyone know anything about that? The current one hasn't been updated since VS 6.0!
posted by krunk at 1:47 PM on November 9, 2005


Microsoft would give away the full version of VS if they could. Probably get sued or something if they tried.

But anyway, give me good old fashion VIM, any day.
posted by nickerbocker at 4:38 PM on November 9, 2005


VS is like crack -- "first one's free".

M$ should give it away really. They're basically the tools by which Redmond is trying to perpetuate its desktop monopoly.
posted by clevershark at 5:46 PM on November 9, 2005


A generation of programmers start off using it (It's truly ADD - Application Development for Dummies) and continue on. Eventually they'll need bigger better things. Having grown quite lazy with this little gem, they'll be running to pick up the next step on the ladder. If only there were PHP support.

Conspiracy Theory Warning

This is new, no one's really had enough of a poke at it. Wonder if any kind of tracking embedded in the compiler has been implemented to make tracing software to the source easier? Do any compilers already do this?
posted by IronLizard at 7:34 PM on November 9, 2005


Wonder if any kind of tracking embedded in the compiler has been implemented to make tracing software to the source easier? Do any compilers already do this?

I believe it embeds some sort of ID into the binaries; I remember years ago when InfoGrames (IIRC, please don't sue me) got in a lot of trouble because Microsoft discovered that they were using pirated copies of VS.
posted by krunk at 8:24 PM on November 9, 2005


I heard that MS is making a replacement to SourceSafe... anyone know anything about that? The current one hasn't been updated since VS 6.0!

Yeah, just did some research on that. It looks nice -- not necessarily better than Clearcase level stuff, but it supports nice atomic multifile checkin operations, defect/feature/task item tracking with defect reports linked to checkins, etc.

Of course, I haven't TOUCHED it yet, so it could be ugly as sin and broken. But it does appear they've been listening to some years-old complaints.
posted by verb at 12:51 AM on November 10, 2005


I looked at Eclipse recently when searching for a Java IDE and was spooked off by all the managerspeak:

Eclipse provides extensible tools and frameworks that span the software development lifecycle, including support for modeling, language development environments..., testing and performance, business intelligence, rich client applications and embedded development. A large, vibrant ecosystem of major technology vendors, innovative start-ups, universities and research institutions and individuals extend, complement and support the Eclipse Platform.

I would have killed for a screenshot. Further pages did not help. I mean, ecosystems are great and all but really, is this going to work for me?
posted by Ogre Lawless at 9:31 AM on November 10, 2005


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