Microsoft Visual Studio – Editions, Comparison, Features, FAQ

Visual Studio is Microsoft’s own IDE that was initially code-named Project Boston and was released in 1997. This time, Microsoft bundled together all their development tools and bought them with a single product. The initial version of the software came in 2 editions. This first one was Visual Studio Professional and the other one was more powerful Visual Studio Enterprise. The professional version was bundled together with 3 CDs, and the superior Enterprise version was bundled together with 3 CDs. Now, let’s talk about Visual Studio 2017.

Microsoft Visual Studio

Microsoft Visual Studio

Currently, version 11 of Visual Studio named as Visual Studio 2017 is the latest stable release from the developer tools team at Microsoft. It is available in 3 main editions namely

  1. Free Community version,
  2. Professional version, and
  3. Enterprise edition.

The Community edition is the free version of the software bundle and is least featured. But anyway, it gets your work done as a novice or a student developer. The second one is the Professional Edition that is slightly more powerful than the Community edition and then comes the complete Enterprise package with all the powerful tools for Visual Studio.

As of now, Visual Studio is a Code Editor, Debugger, and a Designer. This means that you can edit or write simple code for backend or consoles here, you can check if the code written by you is functional and can help if your code needs improvements. Also, it is a designer as you can now designer User Interfaces and User Experiences within Visual Studio like while developing apps for UWP or in Xamarin using Blend or XAML.

All the information in this article concerns the footnotes laid by Microsoft. These are listed below:

    • Enterprise organizations are defined as >250 PCs or > $1 Million US Dollars in annual revenue.
    • Windows Desktop, Universal Windows Apps, Web (ASP.NET), Office 365, Business Applications, Apache Cordova, Azure Stack, C++ Cross-Platform Library Development, Python, Node.js, .NET Core, Docker Tools
    • Can open diagrams generated in other Visual Studio editions in read-only mode.
    • Includes Tier Interaction Profiling.

Now, let us just compare editions of Visual Studio.

Visual Studio Community Free edition

1] Who is it for?

Visual Studio Community Edition will greatly benefit the following Usage Scenarios. They will be supporting Individual Developers, Classroom Learning, Academic Research, Contributing to Open Source Projects and for Non-enterprise organizations for up to 5 users.

2] Will it support Development Platform?

As I mentioned above, it will Surely support the Development Platform.

3] How about the Integrated Development Environment?

Talking about the Integrated Development Environment, the free community edition of Visual Studio will support the following features. It will support Peek Definition, Refactoring, One-click Web Deployment, Model Resource Viewer, Visualizing Solutions with Dependency Graphs and Code Maps, and Multi-targeting.

4] Advanced Debugging and Diagnostics?

Under Advanced Debugging and Diagnostics, the free version of Visual Studio supports the following. It supports Code Metrics, Graphics Debugging, Static Code Analysis, and Performance and Diagnostics Hub.

5] Testing tools support

Well, as it is a free edition of Visual Studio with limited features and tools. It just supports Unit Testing for the developers to test their code on.

6] How well is Xamarin (Cross-Platform Development) integrated?

Well, if you are interested in Xamarin, you are in luck. The following cross-platform features are supported by Visual Studio Community under the name of Xamarin. They are Sharing Code between Android and iOS app counterparts, Native iOS and Android UI Designers, Xamarin Forms (abbreviated as Xamarin.Forms), and Xamarin Instant Player.

7] Can you collaborate with other fellow developers with Visual Studio Community?

Well, Microsoft has got you covered here. The following features are supported by Visual Studio for fulfilling all your collaborating needs. They are PowerPoint Storyboarding, Code Review, Task Suspend/Resume capabilities, and Team Explorer with third-party development tools support.

Read: What is Visual Studio Code?

Visual Studio Professional

1] Who is it for?

Apart from what is mentioned for Visual Studio Community, this Professional Edition of Visual Studio is supported in Usage Scenarios like Enterprises.

2] Will it support Development Platform?

As I mentioned above, it will surely support the Development Platform.

3] How about the Integrated Development Environment?

Talking about the Integrated Development Environment, the professional edition of Visual Studio will support everything that Visual Studio Community Supports. This will additionally support CodeLens.

4] Advanced Debugging and Diagnostics?

Under Advanced Debugging and Diagnostics, the professional edition supports exactly everything that the free edition of Visual Studio, the Visual Studio community supports.

5] Talking about how well Visual Studio supports testing tools

Well, the professional of Visual Studio still comes with limited features and tools when compared to the Enterprise version. It just supports Unit Testing for the developers to test their code on.

6] How well is Xamarin (Cross-Platform Development) integrated?

Well, if you are interested in Xamarin.It supports the same features as Visual Studio Community supports. The following cross-platform features are supported by Visual Studio Community under the name of Xamarin. They are Sharing Code between Android and iOS app counterparts, Native iOS and Android UI Designers, Xamarin Forms (abbreviated as Xamarin.Forms), and Xamarin Instant Player.

7] Can you collaborate with other fellow developers with Visual Studio Professional?

Well, Microsoft has got you covered here. All features are supported by Visual Studio for fulfilling all your collaborating needs. They are PowerPoint Storyboarding, Code Review, Task Suspend/Resume capabilities, and Team Explorer with third-party development tools support.

Visual Studio Enterprise

1] Who is it for?

Similar to Visual Studio Professional, it supports Individual Developers, Classroom Learning, Academic Research, Contribution to Open Source Projects, Non-enterprise organizations for up to 5 users and the Enterprise as well.

2] Will it support Development Platform?

As I mentioned above, it will surely support the Development Platform.

3] How about the Integrated Development Environment?

Talking about the Integrated Development Environment, the Enterprise edition of Visual Studio will support everything that Visual Studio Professional Supports. This will additionally support Live Dependancy Validation, Architectural Layer Diagrams, Architecture Validation and Code Clone.

4] Advanced Debugging and Diagnostics?

Under Advanced Debugging and Diagnostics, the Enterprise edition supports exactly everything that Visual Studio Professional supports. Additionally, it supports IntelliTrace, Code Map Debugger Integration, .NET Memory Dump Analysis.

5] Support for Testing tools

Well, the Enterprise edition of Visual Studio comes with all the features and tools when compared to other inferior versions. In addition to Unit Testing,  it supports Live Unit Testing, Test Case Management, Web Load & Performance Testing, IntelliTest, Microsoft Fakes which is also referred to as Unit Test Isolation, Code Coverage, Lab Management , Coded UI Testing, Manual Testing with Microsoft Test Manager, Exploratory Testing with Microsoft Test Manager, and Fast-forward for Manual Testing with Microsoft Test Manager.

6] How well is Xamarin (Cross-Platform Development) integrated?

Well, if you are interested in Xamarin.It supports more features than Visual Studio Community and Visual Studio Enterprise supports. The following cross-platform features are supported by Visual Studio Enterprise in addition to the ones supported by the other two editions under the name of Xamarin. They are Embedded Assemblies, Xamarin Inspector, Xamarin Profiler, and Remoted iOS Simulator for Windows.

7] Can you collaborate with other fellow developers with Visual Studio Enterprise?

Well, Microsoft has got you covered here. Obviously, all features are supported by Visual Studio for fulfilling all your collaborating needs. They are PowerPoint Storyboarding, Code Review, Task Suspend/Resume capabilities, and Team Explorer with third-party development tools support.

Visual Studio download

If you wish to try your hands-on Visual Studio, you can learn more and download it from VisualStudio.com.

TIP: Microsoft Visual Studio Dev Essentials provides you all the tools and services essential for becoming a developer for absolutely free. The software is aimed to provide free tools, services, and training in order to encourage more developers and enthusiasts to try out their favorite tech.

Now read: Beginners guide to getting started with Visual Studio.

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Ayush has been a Windows enthusiast since the day he got his first PC with Windows 98SE. He is an active Windows Insider since Day 1 and is now a Windows Insider MVP. He has been testing pre-release services on his Windows 10 PC, Lumia, and Android devices.