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back to article Free Windows 8 desktop app development is dead

The next free version of Microsoft’s Visual Studio programming suite won’t build normal Windows desktop apps, it has emerged. Visual Studio 2011 Express edition will only allow developers to build touchscreen-friendly programs for the new Windows 8 Metro UI, according to the software's product page here. Coders will have to pay …

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FAIL

Talk about betting the farm on it

They've absolutely lost their goddamn minds.

Just look at Ubuntu to see what happens when you force a fondleslab interface on desktop users, they leave in their droves.

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Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

Not really. The free version is pretty much only used by amateurs anyway (I think there's a lot of things in the EULA for it that are unpleasant already). I only ever run into it in open-source projects where people use it to compile the Windows version (presumably they can't set up MinGW or similar).

And the pro version is, well, what the professionals use and totally unaffected. I don't think anything really important was really lost for them here, and maybe a few more people will actually come to GCC/MinGW/Eclipse etc. because of things like this. But certainly anyone who was paying them already hasn't suffered at all.

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Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

"The free version is pretty much only used by amateurs anyway"

True, it's not going to affect many (any?) professional developers. It's not like the paid versions are that expensive in context. But "amateur" includes a lot of people, typically young, who want to learn and might enjoy bashing out their first free app that they can share with the world.

People should never be discouraged from learning to program. E.g. by having to use Eclipse.

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Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

That's the point - you want a lot of apps on metro, not the desktop so the easiest way is to make metro the only thing you can program for free.

The old studio express didn't do MFC because they wanted people to do c++/CLR and winforms instead (or were banned from pushing MFC on kids by some sense of moral resposnibility)

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Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

"That's the point - you want a lot of [people to totally give up on Windows 8 and migrate to Linux], so the easiest way is to make metro the only thing you can program for free [on Windows 8]"

That's how I read the sentence anyhow. I know what Redmond want, but what they will get is a totally different thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: you want a lot of apps on metro

>> you want a lot of apps on metro, not the desktop so the easiest way is to make metro the only thing you can program for free.<<

quantity not quality seems to be order of day now - a million "fart" apps for Metro will undoubtedly seem a success

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Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

For anything other than a complete amateur, £300 isn't a lot of money.

The thing is that if you are a student hacking away at some project in your dorm, £300 is a lot of beer/pizza money, so you will put it together using free tools. You are not then going to rewrite it using Microsoft tools if it becomes the next big thing such as facebook. You will continue to develop on the same platform, perhaps using more expensive versions of the tools.

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Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

I don't remember software price causing me any problems at university. Yarr.

Though, this being said, you do get cheaper versions for students, in most parts. It mostly gets people trying to train up if you are trying to learn outside of work and aren't on a course. Though that can still be £360 for a student.

In my opinion the Creative Cloud is certainly a better direction for Adobe to take, but £45 a month for a person who is learning is a little bit ridiculous, though less ridiculous than dropping a £700 on Photoshop if you don't know how to use it already.

I'm personally enjoying messing around with Adobe Edge Preview, just because it IS free.

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Law
Go

Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

There is an open source IDE called SharpDevelop - I was actually using it as a professionally developer in my last job because they were too stingy to pay for VS.

It's mainly for C# development - but supports other languages too. Take a look, it's decent and fast.

http://www.icsharpcode.net/OpenSource/SD/

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Headmaster

@johnathanb

"The thing is that if you are a student hacking away at some project in your dorm, £300 is a lot of beer/pizza money, so you will put it together using free tools."

The thing is, if you are a bona-fied student with an email address from your school/college, you can sign up for Microsoft's DreamSpark program. Students get access to free Product keys for just about any Microsoft product, including Windows, Windows Server, SQL Server and non-express Visual Studio editions.

It's really a great idea. Kind of like the Volume Licensing portal access I have ;)

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Linux

Ubuntu Desktop users leaving in droves?

Not really, the KDE, GNOME (and other) desktops are still available and host thriving developer communities.

www.kde.org

www.gnome.org

unity.ubuntu.com

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FAIL

Re: Ubuntu Desktop users leaving in droves?

Are you compiling the list of "Worst desktop environments for Linux" ?

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Boffin

Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

> Just look at Ubuntu to see what happens when you force a fondleslab interface on

> desktop users, they leave in their droves.

Well, to simply put, yeah. But the truth is, everyone just switched to the Xubuntu respin or quickly installed XFCE and switched to that instead.

I myself use Kubuntu, although I think I'll switch to using XFCE as my primary environment, given that I'll be doing lots of gaming on that box.

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Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

Cinnamon.

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Angel

Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

As a student (for the next few weeks), I can confirm that by visiting www.dreamspark.com any UK (and probably international) student can get full uninhibited copies of a lot of MS software. This isn't well publicised and yet it could probably help a plethora or University students!

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Re: Talk about betting the farm on it

@jonathanb

"For anything other than a complete amateur, £300 isn't a lot of money."

But it's another £300 out of your general technology fund.

And it doesn't stop at £300. MS are very good at persuading you that you really want the next level up,

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Re: Just look at Ubuntu

Actually I'm thinking about giving Unity a good try. On the machine that's currently running the Win8 preview - I've given up trying to like that.

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The initial reaction

is of course to cry foul. However - how many serious, pro developers use Express? Not many I'd wager, other than maybe people developing for xBox Indie. The existing versions of Express will presumably still exist and still work for years .. so yes, a bit of a dick move to get people to buy into this Metro horseshit (well, horseshit on the desktop anyway) but not the end of the world.

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Unhappy

Re: The initial reaction

Except that you've probably got a lot of people writing WinPho apps using Express. People who will find they need to upgrade to VS 2011 to port their app to the new WinRT interface.

And they won't be able to do this unless they fork out the thick end of £500

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JDX
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Re: The initial reaction

Is that definitely correct - if VS2011 Express is MEtro only won't you be able to write phone apps on it since those are Metro too?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The initial reaction

different kind of metro apps? WinPho are silverlight, Win8 arent I believe?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The initial reaction

On that Beta page. Quote. "Express products for Windows Phone and Windows Azure development will be available in conjunction with the next Windows Phone release and Windows Azure update. Until then, you can continue to use Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone to create Windows Phone apps, and Windows Azure SDK for .NET (includes Visual Web Developer 2010 Express) to create Windows Azure cloud services."

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FAIL

Stupid, stupid, stupid

How do you get people used to using your tools if the only stuff they can build with it is apps for a single, untested device with no market share?

The whole strength of Visual Studio was that you could intstall a couple of templates and be up-and-running with Azure/Windows Phone/Blah.

All this will do is push people towards SharpDevelop and make it harder for enthusiasts and hobbyists to write their own apps, and given these are the people who are churning out WinPho apps at the rate of 300 a day that is incredibly short-sighted.

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Re: Stupid, stupid, stupid

They state on that Beta page that Express editions for Phone and Azure are to follow.

Understandable Microsoft is focussed on the Metro stuff right now. Fair bet they will be catching up on desktop next year IMO, would indeed be pretty stupid otherwise.

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JDX
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So use VS2010 if you want to make desktop apps for free.

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Absolutely. In fact, use VS2010 in preference to VS2011 *anyway* because the only changes in the latter are the grey colour scheme and the ability to target WinRT. Most amateur developers won't want either.

Also, *any* Windows compiler produced in the last decade or two can target the Win8 desktop. All you need is a linker capable of setting /subsystem:windows (or console, to taste) and the headers for a recent SDK. The fact that MS have produced a compiler so lame that it can't even do that is (perhaps) newsworthy, but it is not the death knell for cost-free programming on Windows.

In fairness, El Reg isn't the only site that has completely over-reacted on this one.

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Trollface

Monodevelop anyone?

My spidey sense tells me that Xamarin is about to get a boost.

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Re: Monodevelop anyone?

MonoDevelop is still immature compared to Visual Studio. That's not to say it isn't usable, but it certainly lacks a lot of features that power users will expect.

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Lost

I'm struggling to find the "Metro only" reference.

From what I can tell it allows you to develop for the Metro interface but doesn't seem to be exclusive towards Metro only applications.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lost

"Desktop application development

Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows 8 provides tools for Metro style app development. To create desktop apps, you need to use Visual Studio 11 Professional, or higher. In addition, Visual Studio 2010 Express products - Visual Basic 2010 Express, Visual C++ 2010 Express, and Visual C# 2010 Express - will remain available for free download."

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Re: Lost

Other reports suggest thevlicence terms forbid deploying desktop apps. Too lazy to check which it is but I did grab the ISO for the last release in case I ever need to hack something together.

Realistically I'll probably just use any convenient scripting tool at hand if that happens. Even Java...

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Re: Lost

Under "Desktop application development" it says:

"Visual Studio 11 Express for Windows 8 provides tools for Metro style app development. To create desktop apps, you need to use Visual Studio 11 Professional, or higher. In addition, Visual Studio 2010 Express products - Visual Basic 2010 Express, Visual C++ 2010 Express, and Visual C# 2010 Express - will remain available for free download. "

...that pretty much covers it.

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Anonymous Coward

Typical M$. They charge for dev tools and then back down and release free tools when they realise nobody is developing for their platform.

It should not cost money to develop on any platform. Developing software should always be free.

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What part of the "Express" part were you too stupid to deal with?

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JDX
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I would love it if that were the case but it's never been the case.

I'd still rather pay £300 for something brilliant than use something free and crappy if I'm using it 30 hours a week.

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Qt Creator is pretty damn good

I've found it much nicer to use than Visual Studio 2010, notably it's much easier to bring up a program written on somebody else's computer and I've found its code modelling to be excellent.

It's free and open source.

The only annoying bit us that code panes are stuck in one window, once that is fixed it will be damn near perfect for C++ dev.

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@JDX

Would you rather pay £300 for something non-free and crappy than use free and brilliant?

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So forcing people to code for a browser with less limitations than the desktop - cunning Microsoft

This cunning approach will only force people to look at the web browser interface, see they are not forced to turn there application into a multi post-it's notes labotomy and end up giving users the ability to not be tied to the microsoft platform.

There in effect trying to force a mobile interface onto a desktop enviroment and this wont work well for alot of things and will only force people to code for the easier web based html5 standard that can handle there needs. Not like there isn't enough local processing power on peoples computers to have a interpreted language that gets interpreted by another nth degree and still not be a CPU issue.

I therefore approve of this direction Microsoft are taking as the shortcut to freedom just became alot more appealing.

and for everything else there is always ReactOS ( http://www.reactos.org/ ).

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Unhappy

Re: So forcing people to code for a browser with less limitations than the desktop

What did grammar and spelling ever do to you?

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Re: ... - cunning Microsoft

Do you know anyone who actually uses ReactOS? I sure as hell don't.

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FAIL

Re: ... - cunning Microsoft

ReactOS, oh yes, it's been what, 5 years since I last checked in on those fun guys.

<clickety click>

"Please bear in mind that ReactOS 0.3.14 is still in alpha stage"

Hmmm, just about where it was up to back then.

Let's take a look at the wayback machine, all the way back to May 29 2007.

"Please bear in mind that ReactOS 0.3.1 is still in alpha stage"

Oh my, now that's progress.

http://web.archive.org/web/20070529032258/http://www.reactos.org/en/index.html

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Trollface

So then...

There'll be a WINE style convertertron that allows Metro apps to run 'normally' on a desktop with mouse & Keyboard? Seems to be par for the course that Microsoft try to restrict you from doing something and then some amateurs hack together something that bodges round the restrictions, and the resulting mess makes Microsoft look even worse.

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Re: So then...

Don't have Windows boxes handy, so I haven't tested it, but maybe you can run your applications in "sane" mode by running them on Cygwin run Wine?

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WTF?

Re: So then...

WTF? Just because the Express version of VS doesn't allow the development of desktop apps, it doesn't mean you can't run desktop apps.

You certainly don't need to do anything as sick twisted as Wine on Cygwin. Or anything involving Cygwin at all, for that matter. Ever.

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Meh

It's free

so there's little point in complaining as it means they can do what they like with it.

Which of course includes "being stupid".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's free

Does that work if someone punches you in the face? "You cannot charge for assault, it was given free!"

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Law
WTF?

Re: It's free

"Does that work if someone punches you in the face? "You cannot charge for assault, it was given free!" "

<------- see icon

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WTF?

Re: It's free

What an idiotic analogy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's free

I don't know about idiotic analogy. I consider anything related to Metro to be roughly analogous to being punched in the face. But hey, it's fr...actually, waitaminute...they plan to charge for this?

To hell with that noise.

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you arent forced to use that and its as Keith said, it's free.. there are plenty of other IDE's out there.

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