Visual Studio is Microsoft’s integrated development environment (IDE) to develop Windows applications. First version was launched in 1995. Current version is Visual Studio 2012, which targets the .NET Framework 4. With Visual Studio Express tools, you can build the next great app for Windows 8, Windows Phone, and the web.
In 2005, when Microsoft released .NET Framework 2.0, it planned to release lightweight versions of Visual Studio for a lower price. It was designed for beginning developers and students. Microsoft was going to release this lightweight version for free for one year of use. It was branded Visual Studio Express Edition. The Express Edition of SQL Server soon followed. When i started programing I was using the Visual Studio Express Edition 2005. It was more than enough to start writing my first applications in C#.
Each .NET language was released as a separate IDE. And even though they don’t support some features like plug-ins, they do support other important ones, such as IntelliSense.
After one year of use, Microsoft would start charging for the Express Editions. Due to the great acceptance and popularity in the community, Microsoft kept these version free of charge, and it has since then released Express Editions for every new version of Visual Studio and SQL Server.
Go to the Microsoft Express download page and choose your favorite programming language. I picked Visual C# 2012 Express for this example. Download and run the installer. In some step the installer gives you the option to install SQL Server Express as well. Go ahead and check this checkbox if you plan to develop database applications.
In the last installation screen, you can change the installation folder. I used the default path. The installation will take a while since the components need to be downloaded from the Internet.
Click on Exit when all the components have been installed.
Once the installation is done, you’ll see the Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Express folder in the Windows Start Menu. Depending on the language you chose, you will see the corresponding option inside this folder. In my case it’s Microsoft Visual C# 2012 Express.
If you chose to install SQL Server Express, you’ll also see a folder for it in the Start Menu. You will also see the SQL Server Agent under the Windows services.
Open Visual C# from the Start menu. You’ll see the Start Page. You can create a new project from here.
You are now ready to develop .NET applications with Visual Studio 2012 Express Edition.