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April 3, 2023updated 15 May 2023 10:23am

What is Visual Studio?

Microsoft's Visual Studio is an easy way to develop programs on Windows.

By James Nunns

Developers often need to collaborate on coding projects and debugging and they do so through an integrated development environment (IDE), which is exactly what Microsoft Visual Studio is. Microsoft created this platform, which is typically used to develop computer programs compatible with Windows, as well as Android and iOS.

Visual Studio was first launched in 1997 and, since then, it has become one of the most popular IDEs on the market. It is a development environment that allows users to create websites, web applications, web services, and mobile applications.

Microsoft's Visual Studio interface on a computer screen
Microsoft Visual Studio has a free version for beginners, as well as a professional and enterprise version / Image: Shutterstock

What does Visual Studio include?

Including a code editor that supports IntelliSense, Visual Studio is written in C++ and C# and offers an integrated debugger that works both as a source-level and a machine-level debugger. In particular, Microsoft‘s IDE lets programmers create and edit their code collaboratively, also including assisting tools to write code such as syntax highlighting, AI coding models and analysis tools for debugging.

Other built-in tools include a forms designer for building GUI applications, a web designer, a class designer, and a database schema designer. In addition, the software supports multiple different ways of programming with built-in languages such as VB.Net and support for other languages such as Python, Ruby, Node.js, and M.

In May 2023, the new version of Visual Studio was released, Visual Studio 2022 17.5.5, which also allows for integration with GitHub and Microsoft’s own Azure Cloud computing service.

Is Microsoft Visual Studio free?

As described by Microsoft, Visual Studio is “A fully-featured, extensible, free IDE for creating modern applications for Android, iOS, Windows, as well as web applications and cloud services”.

Technically, there are free community, professional and enterprise versions of the tool. The first is perfect for beginners or students, or those who work on open-source projects. The professional version is ideal for small teams and businesses, even if the functions are quite similar to the beginner package, and its subscription amounts to $45 a month. The enterprise version, on the other hand, is perfect for larger teams and big companies, offering the maximum level of support and the maximum amount of functions, and its starting monthly price is $250.

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What companies use Visual Studio?

According to Featured Customers, clients of the software include Shell, British Airways, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Colombia Sportswear.

Visual Studio’s own website also mentions that companies like Chipotle, UPS, Rolls Royce and Alaska Airlines also use the IDE.

Customers favour the product because of its smooth interface, its powerful integrated debugger and its ability to facilitate collaboration using the built-in live share module, as well as promoting low-code projects.

Read more: Microsoft brings ChatGPT AI to Bing and Edge

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