Visual Studio 2015 is out and comes with lots of new features and improvements (see details here) but it also surprised me with what I call a demoting of C++ again to a second-class citizen, after some years when it looked like it regained importance at Microsoft. I’m saying Microsoft has demoted C++ because they made it an optional component in the installer, unlike C# and VB.NET that you cannot opt out and are installed by default with all configurations.
When you run the installer you can see there are two setup options:
- Typical installation, that includes C#, VB.NET and desktop features, and
- Custom installation, that allows you to select what components to install.
The typical configuration requires about 8GB of disk space. However, it only installs .NET based components (and of course other related assets). C++ is not part of those “desktop features” mentioned in the installer description. It does however install the C++ redistributable packages.
To install VC++ you need to perform a custom installation. This can be done after a typical installation. A custom installation allows you to select what you want to install. These includes programming languages (VC++, VF# and Python Tools for Visual Studio), Windows and Web Development components, Cross Platform Mobile Development components and common tools. In total these require an additional 13GB of free disk space. However, with a custom installation you cannot opt out C# or VB.NET.
A good thing though is that the MBCS version of the MFC library is no longer a separate download, but made available with the Visual Studio installation. You must select the Microsoft Foundation Classes for C++ in the Custom installation to have it installed.
The conclusion I draw from the Visual Studio installation options is that C++ is not viewed as a first-class citizen language at Microsoft. I suppose they don’t think a “typical” developer using Visual Studio develops in C++ so they didn’t put it in the typical installation. On the other hand, they don’t provide us with the possibility to opt out .NET languages we don’t use. I’ve never developed anything in VB.NET and I don’t plan to. I don’t even see the need for such a language (just for some remote resemblance with VB6).