Visual C

Visual C++

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++.

  • Visual C++ 1.0, which included MFC 2.0, was the first version of Visual C++, released in 1992, available in both 16-bit and 32-bit versions.
  • Visual C++ 1.5, which included MFC 2.5, added OLE 2.0 and ODBC support to MFC. It was 16-bit only and was the first version of Visual C++ that came only on CD-ROM.
  • Visual C++ 1.52c was a patched version of 1.5, but deserves its own entry since it is the last, and arguably most popular, development platform for Microsoft Windows 3.x. It is available through Microsoft Developer Network.
  • 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". Updates available through subscription included version 2.1 and 2.2. 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++ 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. 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.
  • 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; 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 and shipped for minimal cost to owners of that version. This is the last version to support Windows 95 as a target.
  • eMbedded Visual C++ was used to develop for the Windows CE operating system. 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. 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.
  • 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. By default, all applications compiled against the Visual C++ 2008 Runtimes (static and dynamic linking) will only work under Windows 2000 and later.

Current editions

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.

Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 Express is available as a free download at the MSDN site under "Previous Version".

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 2008 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


External links

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