I tried the new Visual C++ Express (or Visual Studio 2005 / Whidbey). Interesting product, but I can’t use it. It isn’t advertised, but you can develop an x86/PE Win32 app. I will also say that it was fast and the IDE had a good feel. Unfortunately, they don’t integrate the Resource Editor or the ATL. You have to get the full version to build anything interesting. Yet, if you do the app in C#, you can build a full app.
This is short sited.
There are so many developers still using Visual Studio 6.0, and this won’t improve things. VS 6.0 was started in 1995/1996 and shipped in 1998. In a few years, that system will be 10 years old. Yet, these developers here in the US and outside aren’t going to drop $700 – $2000 on MSDN and the new Visual Studio. So they tolerate the old STL and C++. Even at places that can afford it, they don’t switch because they know the toolchain or they want to link to the C runtime that is everywhere.
Microsoft needs a cheap developer system, and they are making strides towards that. Lets see what happens.