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25 May 2012, 12:56

New obstacle for open source on Windows 8

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Microsoft has published its product lineup for Visual Studio 11 and open source developers are noting that the new line up will cause particular problems for creators of open source desktop applications on Windows. The company is planning to drop support for desktop-style applications from the free-of-charge Visual Studio Express, meaning that developers will only be able to develop Metro applications with it.

Currently, many open source developers create applications with Visual Studio Express 2010 as it offers a full and free compiler. But in the future, if they want support for writing fully desktop-enabled Windows 8 applications, developers will have to buy the full version of Visual Studio 11 at an estimated retail price of $499 (£318) or stick with Visual Studio Express 2010.

To make sure that developers can't work around the restrictions in Visual Studio Express 11, Microsoft has removed the compiler infrastructure from the Windows 8 SDK. This makes the full version of Visual Studio the only option for developing full desktop applications on Windows 8.

The decision will only add to the problems Mozilla, for example, has already reported with the limitations of Metro-enabled applications in Windows 8. It could have far reaching consequences for developers using the currently free-of-charge tools to develop open source applications for Windows.

Developing a Metro-style version of their application may also not be an option for many, because of the constraints imposed by the sandboxing and underlying technologies. It is clear though that Microsoft is aiming to persuade as many developers as possible to port their applications to Metro; this intention has been stated by company officials several times during the development process.


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