Microsoft bows to the inevitable and takes Visual Studio 64-bit for 2022 version

When 4GB is just not quite enough

Microsoft is to drag veteran code wrangler Visual Studio kicking and screaming into the modern world with a 64-bit version.

It has been a while coming. Visual Studio dates back to the last century and started out life as Visual Studio 97 (replete with the likes of J++) before version 6.0 turned up to round out the 1990s. Microsoft stuck with naming by year thereafter (aside from a brief dalliance with slapping everything with the .NET moniker at the start of this century).

Which brings us to Visual Studio 2022 and one of the larger overhauls for the suite, not least of which is the long-awaited move to a 64-bit application.

The announcement of the impending preview comes in the month that a preview of a 64-bit client for OneDrive was also announced. Visual Studio fans have, however, been waiting quite a bit longer for their platform to make the migration.

Why so long? It's... complicated. First there is the sheer size of the codebase and the issue of how an ecosystem expecting a 32-bit Visual Studio might react. Then there is the potential of a performance hit by shift to chunkier data structures. And so on.

However, not being limited to around 4GB of memory in the main devenv.exe also has a distinct appeal. Engineers accustomed to leaving ridiculous numbers of browser tabs open would be able to do the same with projects and files in Visual Studio without fear of the out-of-memory exception.

That said, "Visual Studio will continue to be a great tool for building 32-bit apps," according to Microsoft.

Addressable memory isn't the only thing that is changing. Refreshed icons and the use of the Cascadia font first seen in Microsoft's Windows Terminal project are also on the cards as well as synchronised settings over devices and integration with Accessibility Insights.

Developers will be shocked, shocked to learn that "Visual Studio 2022 will make it quick and easy to build modern, cloud-based applications with Azure." Improvements in GitHub integration are also inbound and "full support" will be on offer for .NET 6.

As well as other improvements around code searching, C++ 20 tooling, CMake and .NET Hot Reload for web, desktop and mobile app types, the team also plans to shift Visual Studio for Mac to native MacOS UI.

However, while "the user experience will feel cleaner, intelligent, and action oriented" (handy considering the growth of the tool over the decades), it is the arrival of 64-bit for the old warhorse that will raise more than a few eyebrows. ®

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