Developers were supposedly clamoring for this release, so here it is: A free, standalone version of Visual Studio aimed solely at creating Windows desktop applications. Dubbed Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop, this new release supports classic desktop development in Visual Basic, C#, and C++ and Windows Forms, WPF, and console applications, class libraries, and CLR apps.
In a new post to the Visual Studio Blog, Microsoft’s Jennifer Leaf explains some of the many new features of this product. Among them are:
Multi-project solutions. You can combine C++, C#, and Visual Basic projects into a single solution, making it easy to write a single application using any of the available languages.
Unit Testing. Express for Windows Desktop includes the existing unit test framework for C# and Visual Basic and the new native C++ unit test framework.
Code Analysis. Microsoft added the same targeted set of code analysis rules it provides in Visual Studio 2012 for Windows 8, which helps detect common coding errors, such as buffer overflows, dereferencing null pointers, using uninitialized variables, or misusing APIs.
TFS Integration. This lets you to use the source code control, work item tracking, and build automation that TFS provides. (Supports Team Foundation Server Express 2012 and Team Foundation Service.)
NuGet dependency management. NuGet makes it easier than ever to integrate libraries developed within your organization, or from 3rd parties, into your projects.
Language specific features. Express for Desktop provides support for async and await keywords in Visual Basic and C#, C++ AMP, improvements to C++ 11 Standards conformance, .NET 4.0 and 4.5 apps, and the C++ 64-bit cross-compiler and libraries.
Data Connections. It supports all SQL Server data sources, including the latest SQL Server 2012 and Windows Azure SQL databases.
You can download Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop from the Microsoft web site.