Choosing the Right Express Edition Version

A lot of my readers rely on the Visual Studio Express Edition products to follow the examples in my book with good reason—the product is a free download. Books like Start Here! Learn Microsoft Visual C# 2010 Programming are actually designed from the ground up to use Visual Studio Express Edition. Even though I wrote Professional Windows 7 Development Guide with the purchased product in mind, most of the examples work just fine with the Express Edition as well. It makes sense to me that you’d want to try to learn as much as possible without making a huge commitment in software, so I welcome hearing about your Express Edition experiences.

The latest issue I’m encountering with readers is that Microsoft has changed how the Express Edition downloads work for Visual Studio 2012. There are now several versions of the Express Edition and you have to be sure you download the correct version to ensure that the IDE works with your operating system and my books. Make sure you download Express for Windows Desktop, not Express for Windows 8 (which doesn’t install on anything but Windows 8). The Express for Windows Desktop works with the following operating systems.


  • Windows 7 SP1 (x86 and x64)
  • Windows 8 (x86 and x64)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (x64)
  • Windows Server 2012 (x64)


This version of the Express Edition will let you create a number of application types. For example, you can create these sorts of applications:


  • Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)
  • Windows Forms (WinForms)
  • Win32

Notice that there is no Metro support included with this version. None of my books currently support Metro either. However, if you decide you want to create a Metro application, then you need to download the Express for Windows 8 version and you must install it on a Windows 8 system to use it. Even though the downloads may look confusing, the differences between them are really straightforward.

Make sure you meet all of the requirements for install Visual Studio 2012 on your machine. The Express for Windows Desktop version has these requirements:


  • 1.6 GHz or faster processor
  • 1 GB of RAM (or 1.5 GB when running on a virtual machine)
  • 5 GB of available hard disk space
  • 100 MB of available hard disk space
  • 5400 RPM hard disk drive
  • DirectX 9-capable video card running at 1024 x 768 or higher display resolution

Don’t get the idea that my books require Visual Studio 2012. All of my existing books work just fine with the Visual Studio 2010 Express Edition. This version works on older versions of Windows and has smaller system requirements. Of course, Microsoft will remove this product from its site at some point, so if you want to use this older version, make sure you download it now.

Let me know if you encounter any additional difficulties using the Visual Studio 2012 Express for Windows Desktop with my books at In the meantime, happy coding!


Author: John

John Mueller is a freelance author and technical editor. He has writing in his blood, having produced 99 books and over 600 articles to date. The topics range from networking to artificial intelligence and from database management to heads-down programming. Some of his current books include a Web security book, discussions of how to manage big data using data science, a Windows command -line reference, and a book that shows how to build your own custom PC. His technical editing skills have helped over more than 67 authors refine the content of their manuscripts. John has provided technical editing services to both Data Based Advisor and Coast Compute magazines. He has also contributed articles to magazines such as Software Quality Connection, DevSource, InformIT, SQL Server Professional, Visual C++ Developer, Hard Core Visual Basic, asp.netPRO, Software Test and Performance, and Visual Basic Developer. Be sure to read John’s blog at When John isn’t working at the computer, you can find him outside in the garden, cutting wood, or generally enjoying nature. John also likes making wine and knitting. When not occupied with anything else, he makes glycerin soap and candles, which comes in handy for gift baskets. You can reach John on the Internet at John is also setting up a website at Feel free to take a look and make suggestions on how he can improve it.