I am currently using dev++, I am a complete beginner, (Freshman CS major) learning C++. I can get one of the newest versions of visual studio (2008 or 2009 i think) for free through my school. Not sure if it is worth the trouble of getting. thoughts?

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    You may be able to get it directly from dreamspark.com instead of going through the "trouble" of getting it from school.
    – mmx
    Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 8:32
  • This is an interesting question. There have been a bunch of people recently posting questions on Stack Overflow that are apparently learning C++ through legacy Borland compilers, like Turbo C++. I have never understood why, when there are great, free alternatives available. Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 12:35
  • I agree with Mehrdad about checking out dreamspark. I was able to get Visual Studio 2010 Professional, as well as Microsoft Server 2008 Standard from that site using my school email. You have to verify in 12 months that you're a student, but definitely worth it!
    – Jetti
    Commented Feb 11, 2011 at 18:59
  • Visual Studio is definitely several steps up from Dev-C++, and it's worth getting for yourself. You might be stuck with Dev for classes though, depending on how your professor expects you to turn in assignments. Still, the versions of VS you can get through school programs tend to be much nicer than the Express editions you would otherwise get for free (I got VS2010 Premium for free through my college)
    – KChaloux
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 14:30

7 Answers 7


If by "dev++" you mean this monstrosity, then drop it as fast as you can.

There have been no updates to Dev-C++ in over six years, it's buggy, comes with a really ancient version of gcc and is not worth the cost of the download.

Visual C++, on the other hand, is a world-class compiler and one of the best the IDEs available. That you can get it for free is great (even the Express Editions are light years ahead of Dev-C++) and I wouldn't hesitate.

  • Yea, its what the class was using.
    – Matt
    Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 3:39
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    @Matt: that's a shame because there are actually a number of open source IDEs (if your professors don't like the Microsoft one) that are actually kept up to date and work quite well (Code::Blocks, Eclipse, many others). Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 3:58
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    Oh god. People use it for teaching!? Those poor students!
    – Earlz
    Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 6:29
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    From Jamaica here, and I was taught programming with this and was told that visual studio complicated things. I eventually got the whole department to switch to visual studio the next semester. Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 7:48
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    The best way to learn C++ is to use MS-DOS Edit to edit your code. In fact what's wrong with punch cards. These new fangled IDEs are over-rated! (Only kidding!) Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 12:09

I can't speak more highly of any IDE than Visual Studio. It's useless for Java and such, but it is great for C++ and incredible if you get into .NET. With a price point of Free, there's absolutely no reason it's not worth checking out at the minimum. I suppose it's not for everyone but odds are you'll love it.


Given the distribution of future employment I would highly recommend using the most popular IDEs out there, free or otherwise. It is a very highly rated environment for C#. It can be a bit behind in its compliance with the most current C++ standard.

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    I do approve of MS hiring Herb Sutter to head up Visual C++. VS 2008 had very few discrepancies with the Standard, and VS 2010 comes with a good many features from the upcoming Standard. Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 19:12

Is your school a part of the Microsoft Academic Alliance? If so, you can pretty much get any MS product for free, apart from the Office suite of products.

It is worth checking with your school , as I have been able to get things such as VS professional edition, Windows 7 Professional, SQL Server Enterprise, Visual Studio Team System, all for free.

There are also a hell of a lot more products on there.



You can get Visual Studio 2010 for free by just downloading it of the Microsoft Web Site. It is not the full version, but is plenty good enough for learning.



A lot of people have said they really like VC++ and recommend it. Honestly, I don't like VC++ much (it's not bad per-se, I just prefer a more command-line driven workflow with vim, make, gdb, etc.) and I'd still recommend that you get it. It's free, so there's essentially no downside to installing it and at least comparing it to what you are using now. As you are in school it's a great time to look at the breadth of options available and familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of each


Point blank answer: YES.

You have to remember that, regardless of whether you get it from school (via the MSDNAA) or through DreamSpark, you are going to be using a version with an academic license. Technically, that means you're supposed to only use it for school, although I don't know that there are people going around and looking at the metadata of people's source code to see what version they used.

If you want an alternative to both VS and Dev++, you could also use Eclipse, which has a C/C++ version, which would also help you transition to Java, if it's part of your curriculum.

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