Microsoft is ending production of "free as in beer" compilers.The number of people we have who will be prepared to fork out $500 or so for the new Visual Studio is severely limited, I suspect. It would for example make it much harder to ask people to maintain buildfarm animals, or test patches. From our point of view this is unquestioningly a bad move on Microsoft's part. It's a good thing we have a fallback tool chain we can use.
This is such a bad decision that I literally cannot believe it. <br />
It was my understanding that metro apps can be built as "native" code, and in fact the new WinRT framework is developed in C++, with .Net bindings. In fact, this was taken by some as evidence of the resurgence of "native" code on Microsoft platforms, so I'd have expected that a C/C++ compiler toolchain could not very well be excluded from any future version of Visual Studio. I surmise from the Ars Technica article that developers will have to pay for the privilege of using the legacy win32 API. <br />
I think that Microsoft now firmly understand that they must embrace open source software. For example, they are now the 17th largest Linux kernel contributor. I really cannot see them following through with restricting the functionality of their free dev tools in a way that adversely affects our ability to target Windows. That said, I've been wrong before.
If Microsoft ever decides to restrict the MS C++ Runtime library, it would basically kill the PG Windows distribution. Not sure why they would do that because it would mean no one could distribute C++-created executables, but odder things have happened.<br />
What is our fallback toolchain? MSVC? How do those binaries compare to MSVS builds?
I don't think that they will restrict access to the runtime library, although one never knows what they will do next for sure.<br />
The fallback tool chain is the mingw build set. The article makes it clear that the new SDK will not contain command line compilers or similar tools, so apart from the C runtime we can probably rely on having just about nothing from Microsoft.
Isn't this really throwing small developers under the bus? Projects like Postgres can easily cough up the money for these licenses if we decide it's necessary, but for smaller projects/developers I think this would be much more burdensome.
Our community consists of many hundreds of volunteers. Certainly the Project can find money for one or two licenses for its purposes, but we aren't going to pay the license fees for our developers, I imagine. So we'll be affected by a reduction in the number of people contributing for MSVC, and testing those contributions. For example, I run two Visual C++ buildfarm members. I'm not sure I would continue to do so if it cost me $1k in license fees when I need to uprgade them.
When I recently natigated a related situation where I needed some Microsoft tools, the easiest solution was to qualify for the "Action Pack Development and Design" subscription. That gave me the latest OS and Office releases from them, as well as 3 licenses for Visual Studio. I used that to get all my Windows development laptops and VMs sync'd up with the latest tools from them.<br />
The main restriction on buying that package is, basically, that you need to be a proper company but not a large one: https://mspartner.microsoft.com/en/hk/Pages/Membership/action-pack-dev-design-eligibility.aspx You also have to take some basic qualification tests, simple stuff really. Was around $450, which isn't a bad deal. It's sure not free though.
The command line toolchain is still there and it's not crippled. It's just the IDE that only does Metro. It's not great, but it's not the end of the world.<br />
So if you install Visual Studio Express and the new Windows SDK (you need both), run the right bat file under VC/bin, or VC/bin/x86_amd64, then you're good to go.