Out of morbid curiousity, I decided to install Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop on my Windows 7 machine. The required prerequisites included the notorious in-place upgrade to .NET Framework 4.5 and the new Windows SDK 8.0 for Windows 8. Here’s what I found:
- The .NET 4.5 in-place upgrade does indeed reuse the same directories and registry keys as .NET 4.0. This somewhat complicated my InnoSetup version checker, but more importantly means that uninstalling 4.5 completely removes all 4.x assemblies. Going back to .NET 4.0 required reinstalling that version from scratch.
- The new Windows SDK 8.0 no longer ships with any compilers – not even the .NET compilers that used to be freely available even before the C++ compiler joined the club. You need either Visual Studio 2012 or some unspecified third-party compilers to write programs. Since VS2012 already includes the SDK, the separate download is now rather pointless for most users.
(2013-02-13: Turns out you can rig a command-line setup using the compilers that ship with the .NET Framework itself.)
- Speaking of Visual Studio Express, although technically free it installs as a “trial” edition that stops working after 30 days unless you complete an amazingly onerous registration page, clearly designed to let Microsoft spam you in any way imaginable. Apparently this was also the case for the 2010 versions, which I wasn’t aware of.
- Visual Studio 2012 is ugly. I had thought Microsoft’s screenshots looked rather bland and depressing, but I wasn’t prepared for the sheer sledgehammer of desolate ugliness that appeared on my monitor. A featureless, colorless, chromeless, near-black rectangle of misery, punctuated with screaming menu titles. MetroTwit shows how to make a beautiful Metro application. VS2012 is the opposite.
And with that, I rolled back to .NET 4.0 and Visual Studio 2010.
2014-02-23: VS2012 has been replaced with VS2013 which you can get at the new download page. I’m happy to report that my major complaints have been fixed in VS2013 Express. The new default color scheme is much more pleasant, and while Express still defaults to a 30-day trial you can now “register” simply by logging in with your Microsoft account – no additional information necessary.