Visual Studio support for new C / C++ standards?


I keep reading about C99 and C++11 and all these totally sweet things that are getting added to the language standard that might be nice to use someday. However, we currently languish in the land of writing C++ in Visual Studio.

Will any of the new stuff in the standard ever get added to visual studio, or is Microsoft more interested in adding new C# variants to do that?

Edit: In addition to the accepted answer, I found the Visual C++ team blog:

And specifically, this post in it:

Very useful. Thanks!

12/19/2011 12:27:50 AM

Accepted Answer

MS has a series of public replies to this, most of them blaming their users. Like this one:

Now, the Visual C++ compiler team receives the occasionally question as to why we haven’t implemented C99. It’s really based on interest from our users. Where we’ve received many requests for certain C99 features, we’ve tried to implement them (or analogues). A couple examples are variadic macros, long long, __pragma, __FUNCTION__, and __restrict. If there are other C99 features that you’d find useful in your work, let us know! We don’t hear much from our C users, so speak up and make yourselves heard

Hi: unfortunately the overwhelming feadback we get from the majority of our users is that they would prefer that we focus on C++-0x instead of on C-99. We have "cherry-picked" certain popular C-99 features (variadic macros, long long) but beyond this we are unlikely to do much more in the C-99 space (at least in the short-term).

Jonathan Caves

Visual C++ Compiler Team.

This is a pretty sad state of affairs, but also makes sense if you suspect MS wants to lock users in: it makes it very hard to port modern gcc-based code into MSVC, which at least I find extremely painful.

A workaround exists, though: Note that Intel is much more enlightened on this. the Intel C compiler can handle C99 code and even has the same flags as gcc, making it much easier to port code between platforms. Also, the Intel compiler works in visual studio. So by scrapping MS COMPILER you can still use the MS IDE that you seem to think has some kind of value, and use C99 to your hearts content.

A more sensible approach is honestly to move over to Intel CC or gcc, and use Eclipse for your programming environment. Portability of code across Windows-Linux-Solaris-AIX-etc is usually important in my experience, and that is not at all supported by MS tools, unfortunately.

9/6/2010 4:35:25 PM

Herb Sutter is both the chair and a very active member of C++ standardisation comitee, as well as software architect on Visual Studio for Microsoft.

He is among the author of the new C++ memory model standardised for C++0x. For example, the following papers:

have his name on it. So I guess the inclusion on Windows of C++0x is assured as long as H. Sutter remains at Microsoft.

As for C99 only partly included in Visual Studio, I guess this is a question of priorities.

  • Most interesting C99 features are already present in C++ (inlining, variable declaration anywhere, // comments, etc.) and probably already usable in C in Visual Studio (If only doing C code within the C++ compiler). See my answer here for a more complete discussion about C99 features in C++.
  • C99 increases the divergence between C and C++ by adding features already existing in C++, but in an incompatible way (sorry, but the boolean complex implementation in C99 is laughable, at best... See for more information)
  • The C community on Windows seems non-existent or not important enough to be acknowledged
  • The C++ community on Windows seems too important to be ignored
  • .NET is the way Microsoft wants people to program on Windows. This means C#, VB.NET, perhaps C++/CLI.

So, would I be Microsoft, why would I implement features few people will ever use when the same features are already offered in more community active languages already used by most people?


C++0x will be included, as extention of VS 2008, or on the next generation (generations?) of Visual Studio.

The C99 features not already implemented won't be in the next years, unless something dramatic happens (a country full of C99 developers appears out of nowhere?)

Edit 2011-04-14

Apparently, the "country full of C99 developers" already exist:

Still, the last comment at: is clear enough, I guess.

Edit 2012-05-03

Herb Sutter made it clear that:

  1. Our primary goal is to support "most of C99/C11 that is a subset of ISO C++98/C++11."
  2. We also for historical reasons ship a C90 compiler which accepts (only) C90 and not C++
  3. We do not plan to support ISO C features that are not part of either C90 or ISO C++.

The blog post add links and further explanations for those decisions.


Licensed under: CC-BY-SA with attribution
Not affiliated with: Stack Overflow