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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft's C# and VB Compilers Now Freely Available

Microsoft's C# and VB Compilers Now Freely Available

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The MSBuild tools suite is being repackaged into an independent package that will include Microsoft's C# and Visual Basic compilers.  It will no longer ship solely as part of the .NET Framework or Visual Studio.  Microsoft program manager Will Buik states that this will allow the company to produce more rapid updates to the toolset since it will be able to be updated and deployed independently of the .NET Framework and Visual Studio. 

As a result of its independence, the MSBuild will now be part of a new package called Microsoft Build Tools (MBT).  MBT will consist of MSBuild, and compilers for Visual Basic and C#.  It is installed as part of the Visual Studio 2013 Preview, but is also available separately in prerelease form.  Starting with VS2013, a given version of Visual Studio will be aligned with a specific release of MBT.  For VS2013 that means it will use MSBuild 2013, the VB/C# compilers will use assemblies version 12, and toolset version 12.  So as newer versions of MBT emerge, VS2013 will always use the particular version assigned to it.

Buik states that this will not affect the ability of projects targeting .NET Framework 4.5 to round-trip from VS2013 to VS2012.  Locations for the MSBuild binaries can be found in the following locations:

32-bit machines:             

C:\Program Files\MSBuild\12.0\bin

64-bit machines:             

C:\Program Files (x86)\MSBuild\12.0\bin         (32-bit binaries)

C:\Program Files (x86)\MSBuild\12.0\bin\amd64   (64-bit binaries)

For comparison, previous versions of MSBuild were located with the .NET Framework, such as “C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v3.5”.

Final licensing details have not been announced by Microsoft but the license accompanying the preview package indicates that this pre-release version of MBT is valid for use until January 15, 2014.  According to a Microsoft spokesperson the production release of MBT will be freely available and not require a licensed copy of Visual Studio in order to be installed.  In addition the production release will not have a license expiration.

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Community comments

  • Opensource

    by Dzmitry Lahoda,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Mono C# compiler and its implementation (Mono.CSharp.dll) are free available and opensource. Used by such tool like CS-Script.

  • Misleading title, great news

    by Panagiotis Kanavos,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    The compilers have been "freely available" for as long as the .NET SDK has been available, ie forever. The REAL story is that the build tools get decoupled from the framework.

  • :( what about C++?

    by Eric Aguiar,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    In a way most people on earth could care less about those compilers since you could get them no problem, the VC++ compiler on the other hand has a very bad Express package that should instead be put out and packaged separately or compbined in/out of the Windows SDK so it's more easily usable and accessible beyond purchasing Visual Studio Pro or greater. Maybe one day...

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