Is C++/CLI a Second Class Language with Microsoft?

The post frequency on the Visual C++ team blog is reasonably high. Some posts deal with new features that were added to VC++ 2008.

But, is Visual C++ a second-class citizen in the Visual Studio product group?  Recently the Visual Studio 2008 Product Comparison was released (don’t ask me why it wasn’t released at the same time as the products…).  In the product comparisons VC++ Express has an inordinate number of features that only it doesn’t have.  When you look at the Visual C++ 2008 Express Edition product sites, it seems pretty clear that it’s geared towards native-only software development.  Despite this the product comparison shows VC++ Express has Managed Debugging, Mixed-Mode Debugging and Compiler Support for any CPU (which details “…compile your managed application…”).  But, VC++ 2008 Express is the only edition that doesn’t support adding reference to WCF services (“Service Reference”), Code Snipped Manager, Code Snippets, Rename Refactoring, Text File (you can’t create a plain text file with VC++ 2008 Express?), and one of two editions that doesn’t include support for XML File (create a blank XML file), and SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition.  As well, only VC++ 2008 doesn’t include managed-only features like Object Browser, Object Relational Designer, and SQLMetal (the last two deal with .NET-only LINQ-to-SQL.

C++ has stagnated as a language for quite some time, but Visual C++ 2008 includes new language features like C++0x and TR1 that help evolve the language for the parallel future.  But, despite assurances that native development is still a focus at Microsoft, there is the appearance that VC++ just isn’t getting the same resources as the other editions.  Makes you wonder how much longer will Microsoft keep it in the Visual Studio family…

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