Visual C++

The powerful and flexible Visual C++ language and tools in Visual Studio enable the development of native Windows Store apps, native desktop apps, and managed apps that run on the .NET Framework. Visual C++ includes these components:

  • Visual Studio development environment
    The development environment supports the entire development workflow, from creating and managing projects through writing code, debugging, profiling, and deploying to end users.

  • Visual C++compiler tools
    The compiler supports both native code development and development that targets the .NET common language runtime (CLR). Visual C++ directly supports compilation for x86 computers, and also includes compilers that target x64 and ARM. It optimizes performance for all platforms.

  • Libraries

    • C Runtime Library (CRT)
      Includes security-enhanced alternatives to functions that are known to pose security issues.

    • Standard C++ Library
      Contains the iostreams library and the Standard Template Library (STL).

    • Active Template Library (ATL)
      For the creation of COM components and apps.

    • Microsoft Foundation Class (MFC) libraries
      For the creation of desktop apps that have traditional or Office-style user interfaces.

    • Parallel Patterns Library (PPL)
      For asynchronous and parallel algorithms that execute on the CPU.

    • C++ AMP (C++ Accelerated Massive Parallelism)
      For massively parallel algorithms that execute on the GPU.

    • Windows Runtime C++ Template Library (WRL),
      For the COM-style development of Windows Store apps and components.

    • The .NET Framework class libraries (by using C++/CLI), STL/CLR, and the C++ Support Library
      For the development of managed apps.

In addition, when you use Visual C++ you can also access the Windows APIs for both Windows Store apps and desktop apps. The header files and .winmd files for these APIs are included in Visual Studio, in the Windows Software Development Kit (SDK) for Windows 8.


Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows 8 supports only the creation and deployment of Windows Store apps and components, and doesn't support desktop or console apps. For desktop development, you can use Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop or one of the Visual Studio 2012 editions. For information about Visual Studio editions, see Visual C++ Tools and Templates in Visual Studio Editions

In This Section

  • Learn Visual C++
    This part of the Visual Studio Developer Center website contains guidance for people who are just starting to learn C++.