Visual Studio 2012 - Express vs Professional

  • I'm having trouble finding a feature comparison between Visual Studio 2012 Express Edition and the professional edition. I'm using the trial Professional version at the moment, but it'll run out soon, so I need to make a decision whether to purchase the full version.

    Obviously, I can just try both initially and see if the Express edition is suitable, but the problem is that there are that many features in Visual Studio, there might be a really useful feature that was missing in the standard edition that I didn't even know existed! Or I didn't spot it was missing until later down the line. I could really do with a feature comparison list like the one for all non-Express editions here. It's a shame that page doesn't include the Express edition.

    It's not worth a proper answer, but if you're doing desktop graphics, the Graphics Debugging feature is currently only available in paid SKUs.

    If you are a startup - a small, new company - you can get Visual Studio Professional free through Microsoft's BizSpark program. And lots of other software and goodies too.

  • Ryan Hayes

    Ryan Hayes Correct answer

    8 years ago

    The biggest difference is that Express editions do not support plugins (No ReSharper, no add-ons). Additionally, the non-express versions are all combined, meaning you don't have to switch back and forth to get features from individual express versions if you have a project that crosses web, desktop, etc.

    UPDATE 8/6/2015 - If you're looking for a free edition of Visual Studio today, you will most likely be using the Visual Studio Community Edition, which is very different from the Express edtions (better). Community Edition is essentially Professional Edition, but free for Individuals, and DOES support plugins!

    Thankfully in 2012, they at least combined the different languages into a single Desktop edition.

    No Resharper?! Looks like I'm buying the Professional edition then. Can't live without it! There's also a bunch of other add ons that I'd really miss.

    @Dan express doesn't even support the web essentials plugin!

    Without Resharper I ended up having all my classes in a single file on a small project I was doing at home, and VS lacks all the nice refactorings :(

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