Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition

UPDATE:Visual Studio 2015 also has a Community Edition.

This is awesome news from Microsoft. They have finally released a new edition for VS2013. Now before you grumble about yet another edition let me clarify exactly what this means – Express is dead.

What Is It?

In short VS2013 CE (hereafter known as CE) is the free version of Visual Studio. Prior to now you would have been using Express. The licensing for CE is more open. Basically if you qualified to use Express then CE is also available. Moreover even if you are doing some “start up” work then you may still be able to use CE. Refer to the CE site for the licensing requirements.

CE is the full VS Pro SKU but marketed toward new developers who are just getting started. More on this later.

Where Does Express Fit Into This?

Basically it doesn’t. Express is dead. If you currently have Express installed then remove it (them) and install CE instead.

For the last couple of versions VS Express has been the free version of Visual Studio. But there were issues with it. The biggest issue was getting the correct edition. Express was designed for new developers but as a new developer you had to understand what type of app you were going to develop. There was VS Express for Web which allowed for web development. There was also VS Express for Windows but guess what? It was for building Windows Store apps only. There was a lot of confusion when VS 2013 was first released because new developers were trying to use VSX for Windows to create Winforms apps (as many intro books use) but there were no such options. Finally Microsoft released VS Express for Windows Desktop which allowed Winform and WPF apps. But as a new developer how are they supposed to know the difference? Even worse is that if you wanted to build for multiple platforms you had to install VSX multiple times.

CE contains support for all the project types that VS supports because it is the Pro SKU. Therefore you can just install CE and be able to build for any supported platform. No more multiple installs of VS!!!

What Is the Benefit of CE Over Express?

In case you didn’t find any of the previous beneficial to you then how about this? Any VS extension created by Microsoft or anybody else that targets VS Pro or higher can be used in CE. That’s right, you can now install all the extensions that were previously reserved for full versions of VS. Note that some extensions still require Premium or Ultimate to work but most just require Pro. You don’t need to wait for the extensions to be updated either, they already work with CE without change.

Another benefit is the UI itself. VSX had a simplified UI out of the box. In order to access the advanced (aka standard) features you had to enable them. Describing that process to a new developer was hard. Since CE is the full VS this problem goes away. Now both VS Pro+ and VS CE users can talk and work in the same environment.

In summary here are the benefits of CE.

  • Free for hobbyists and a few special cases
  • Full VS Pro version
  • Supports all standard VS extensions
  • Single product for developing on all supported platforms

So if you are still using VS Express then remove it and download Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition now.