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Visual Studio 2005 or 2008?


Ralf Maximus:
Microsoft has announced Visual Studio 2008 has gone RTM.  It should be available in lovely shrink-wrapped boxes in time for the Christmas rush.  I know what Aunt Mildred's getting in her stocking!

But is migration from VS2005 (or even 2003) warranted?  Is the juice worth the squeeze?  What exactly's in that smokin' new code, and how stable is it?

Here's one blogger's take on upgrade strategies, and a nice enumeration of the new stuff sprinkled liberally with helpful links.

The comments, as usual for these kinds of things, are as good as the article itself.  For instance, one VS 2008 beta user reports it to be the most stable version of the product he's tried yet.

Time to dig in!

VS2001 was pretty flaky, VS2003 was fine, and VS2005 has been very fine as well except for a few glitches here and there - the service pack for VS2005 fixed some and added a few more, ho humm. Haven't had trouble with any of the compilers, though.

Haven't even looked into what VS2008 is going to bring, neither IDE nor compiler, my main hope would be for the IDE to be a bit lighter on resources, and have the bugs fixed...

Heh, can't believe I forgot about the existance of the Visual C++ Team Blog, I should add it to website watcher :P. This post about performance improvements is interesting.

My brief experience with VS 2008 gives me 2 reasons to go with 2008 over 2005:

1) 2008 has a much snappier feel to it - it's like having a new machine
2) I often got annoyed when the Intellisense pop-up would obscure code I was looking at when typing.   2008 has added a feature that makes those pop ups transparent by holding down the Ctrl key.  This is one of those little "how did I live without that?" features.

The vast majority of the new stuff in 2008 is geared towards managed code.  However these 2 things are enough for me.  I'm also looking forward to the improvements I've heard about in multi-thread debugging - such as having a visual cue as to where other threads are when you stopped in the debugger.  I haven't had the opportunity to try it, but it also seems like a little feature that will be hard to live without once you've used it.

IntelliSense fixes by itself would be enough reason to upgrade :P - the blog entry I linked above does sound promising. But from reading the vcblog, it does seem like most 2008 enhancements are for dotNET. I ended up on one of those link-following cruises, and it's pitiful that intrinsics are still pretty lousy; yeah, they added support for new instructions, but there's still code generation problems. Might as well write external assembly and link that in, at least you know what you're going to get.

Also a shame that, seemingly, IDE as well as compilers are still exclusively 32bit. Sure, you can target x64, but the tools are 32bit. I would be interested in seeing whether the additional registers of x64 could do something for compiler speed...

But all in all, if there's intellisense fixes and the IDE is a bit snappier, and no new significant bugs are introduced, it'll be worth it.


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