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Microsoft Visual C++ (often abbreviated as MSVC) is a commercial integrated development environment (IDE) product engineered by Microsoft for the C, C++, and C++/CLI programming languages. It has tools for developing and debugging C++ code, especially code written for the Microsoft Windows API, the DirectX API, and the Microsoft .NET Framework.
The predecessor to Visual C++ was called Microsoft C/C++. There was also a Microsoft QuickC 2.5 and a Microsoft QuickC for Windows 1.0.
- Microsoft C 1.0, based on Lattice C, was Microsoft's first C product in 1983. It was not K&R C.
- C 2.0 added large model support.
- C 3.0 was the first version developed inside Microsoft. It was extremely compatible with K&R and the later ANSI standard. It was being used inside Microsoft (for Windows and Xenix development) in early 1984. It shipped as a product in 1985.
- C 4.0 added optimizations and CodeView, a source level debugger.
- C 5.0 added loop optimizations and Huge Model (arrays bigger than 64k) support. Microsoft Fortran and the first 32 bit compiler for 80386 were also part of this project.
- C 6.0 released in 1989. It added global flow analysis, a source browser, and a new debugger, and included an optional C++ front end.
- C/C++ 7.0 was released in 1992. It added built-in support for C++, and before long, was re-badged as:
- Visual C++ 1.0, which included MFC 2.0, was the first version of Visual C++, released in February 1993. It was Cfront 2.1 compliant and available in two editions:
- Standard - replaced QuickC for Windows.
- Professional - replaced C/C++ 7.0. Included the ability to build both DOS and Windows applications, an optimizing compiler, a source profiler and the Windows 3.1 SDK. The Phar Lap 286 DOS Extender Lite was also included.
- Visual C++ 1.5, was released in December 1993, included MFC 2.5 and added OLE 2.0 and ODBC support to MFC. It was the first version of Visual C++ that came only on CD-ROM.
- Visual C++ 1.51 and 1.52 were available as part of a subscription service.
- Visual C++ 1.52b is similar to 1.52, but does not include the Control Development Kit.
- Visual C++ 1.52c was a patched version of 1.5. It is the last, and arguably most popular, development platform for Microsoft Windows 3.x. It is available through Microsoft Developer Network.
- Visual C++ 1.0 (original name: Visual C++ 32-bit Edition), was the first version for 32-bit development. Although released when 16-bit 1.5 was available, it did not included support for OLE2 and ODBC. It was also available in a bundle called Visual C++ 16/32-bit Suite, which included Visual C++ 1.5.
- Visual C++ 2.0, which included MFC 3.0, was the first version to be 32-bit only. In many ways, this version was ahead of its time because Windows 95, then codenamed "Chicago", was not released, and Windows NT had only a small market share. As a result, this release was almost a "lost generation". Microsoft included and updated Visual C++ 1.5 as part of the 2.x releases up to 2.1, which included Visual C++ 1.52, and both 16-bit and 32-bit version of the Control Development Kit (CDK) were included. Visual C++ 2.x also supported Win32s development. It is available through Microsoft Developer Network. There was a Visual C++ 2.0 RISC Edition for MIPS and Alpha processors, as well as a cross-platform edition for the Macintosh (68000 instruction set).
- Visual C++ 2.1 and 2.2 were updates for 2.0 available through subscription.
- Visual C++ 4.0, which included MFC 4.0, was designed for Windows 95 and Windows NT. To allow support of legacy (Windows 3.x/DOS) projects, 4.0 came bundled with the Visual C++ 1.52 installation CD. Updates available through subscription included Visual C++ 4.1, which came with the Microsoft Game SDK (later released separately as the DirectX SDK), and Visual C++ 4.2. Version number 3.0 was skipped to achieve version number parity between Visual C++ 4.0 and MFC 4.0.
- Visual C++ 4.2 did not support Windows 3.x (Win32s) development. This was the final version with a cross-platform edition for the Macintosh available and it differed from the 2.x version in that it also allowed compilation for the PowerPC instruction set.
- Visual C++ 5.0, which included MFC 4.21, was a major upgrade from 4.2. Available in four editions: Learning, Professional, Enterprise, RISC.
- Visual C++ 6.0 (commonly known as VC6), which included MFC 6.0, was released in 1998. The release was somewhat controversial since it did not include an expected update to MFC. Visual C++ 6.0 is still quite popular and often used to maintain legacy projects. There are however issues with this version under Windows XP, especially under the debugging mode (ex: the values of static variables do not display). The debugging issues can be solved with a patch called the "Visual C++ 6.0 Processor Pack" downloadable from http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/vstudio/aa718349.aspx; This page stresses that Users must also be running Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, or Windows 2000.'
- Visual C++ .NET 2002 (known also as Visual C++ 7.0), which included MFC 7.0, was released in 2002 with support for link time code generation and debugging runtime checks, .NET 1.0 and Visual C# and Managed C++. The new user interface used many of the hot keys and conventions of Visual Basic, which accounted for some of its unpopularity among C++ developers.
- Visual C++ .NET 2003 (known also as Visual C++ 7.1), which included MFC 7.1, was released in 2003 along with.NET 1.1 and was a major upgrade to Visual C++ .NET 2002. It was considered a patch to Visual C++ .NET 2002. Accordingly, the English language upgrade version of Visual Studio .NET 2003 shipped for minimal cost to owners of the English language version of Visual Studio .NET 2002. This is the last version to support Windows 95 as a target.
- eMbedded Visual C++ in various versions was used to develop for some versions of the Windows CE operating system. Initially it replaced a development environment consisting of tools added onto Visual C++ 6.0. eMbedded Visual C++ was replaced as a separate development environment by Microsoft Visual Studio 2005.
- Visual C++ 2005 (known also as Visual C++ 8.0), which included MFC 8.0, was released in November 2005. This version supports .NET 2.0 and dropped Managed C++ for C++/CLI. Managed C++ for CLI is still available via compiler options though. It also introduced OpenMP. With Visual C++ 2005, Microsoft also introduced Team Foundation Server. Visual C++ 8.0 has problems compiling MFC AppWizard projects that were created using Visual Studio 6.0, so maintenance of legacy projects can be continued with the original IDE if rewriting was not feasible.
- SP1 version also available in Microsoft Windows SDK Update for Windows Vista. Version number: 14.00.50727.762
- Visual C++ 2008 (known also as Visual C++ 9.0) was released in November 2007. This version supports .NET 3.5, and it is currently the latest stable release. Managed C++ for CLI is still available via compiler options. By default, all applications compiled against the Visual C++ 2008 Runtimes (static and dynamic linking) will only work under Windows 2000 and later. A feature pack released for VC9, later included into SP1, added support for C++ TR1 library extensions.
- SP1 version also available in Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7. Version number: 15.00.30729.01
- Visual C++ 2010 (known also as Visual C++ 10.0) is planned for release on April 12, 2010. It is currently in development, and available only in the form of beta version. The Visual C++ team is considering using a SQL Server Compact database to store information about the source code, including IntelliSense information, for better IntelliSense and code-completion support. This version adds a modern C++ parallel computing library called the Parallel Patterns Library, partial support for C++0x, significantly improved IntelliSense, and performance improvements to both the compiler and generated code. This version is built around .NET 4.0, but supports compiling to machine code. The partial C++0x support in VC10 consists of 6 compiler features (lambdas, rvalue references, auto, decltype, static_assert, nullptr), and some library features (e.g. moving the TR1 components from std::tr1 namespace directly to std namespace). Variadic templates were also considered, but delayed until some future version due to lower priority which stemmed from the fact that unlike other costly-to-implement features in VC10 (lambda, rvalue references), this one would benefit rather the minority of library writers than the majority of compiler end users.
- Beta 2 version number: 16.00.21003.01 (this is the version of compiler; the IDE itself has version number 16.00.21006.01)
There are four current versions of Visual C++ available:
- Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Express Edition
- Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Standard
- Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Professional
- Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Team System
Visual C++ is included in Visual Studio.
Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Express is available as a free download at the MSDN site.
Because on March 31st the Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Express Edition Products were discounted and removed from www.microsoft.com/express/, Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 Express is available as a free download at the MSDN site under "Previous Version" only to MSDN Subscribers
Visual C++ 2008 Express
This Microsoft Visual C++ (or Visual C++ 9.0) is available in two flavors: as a part of Microsoft Visual Studio and as a standalone "Express Edition" product. Both should be available for MSDN subscribers and were released officially in November of 2007.
Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Express Edition is available from the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) web site as a free download.
Visual Studio 2005 Standard and Professional editions have x64 compiler support, and Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite supports both x64 and IA-64. Prior to Visual C++ 2005, the Platform SDK was the only way for programmers to develop 64-bit Windows applications. The SDK included both a compiler and a Visual C++ 6.0 library for the x64-target. Programmers who wanted the 64-bit versions of the Visual C++ .NET 2003 libraries (which are no longer available) had to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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