The Express range of development systems has been the standard route into programming under Windows for a good few years. They are cheap, i.e. free, and they are lightweight solutions that ease beginners into the full Visual Studio. They also support a lot of Windows based open source and startup projects that simply couldn't afford the full Visual Studio - not to mention educational use.
There are no templates and no targets defined for the desktop.
As Metro apps only run on Windows 8 or Windows RT you can immediately see that Express 11 is only of use if you have upgraded to Windows 8/RT and if you only want to create Metro apps.
Microsoft suggest that if you want to create a desktop app then you simply keep on using one of the Express 2010 editions.
You might think at first look that this is very reasonable. After all, it is Metro that is new and needs the new environment to allow programmers to create the new apps. However, the message that this sends is now clear despite the way that Microsoft's blogs do their best to discuss any other issues but the one's that really matter.
The fact that Express 11 will only target Metro apps is a clear statement that the desktop is legacy.
If you are planning your next project and don't want to buy the full Visual Studio to get started you have the choice of going Metro with the current generation of IDE or you can use 2010 - which isn't even last year's product.
The message is that the desktop has no future in the same way that the 2010 Express family has no future.
You can see how this fits into Microsoft's stragety to sweep the old aside and replace it with something new. It used similar techniques when introducing .NET. Instead of giving programmers a choice of using classic VB 6 they simply dropped VB 6 and forced the upgrade to the incompatible VB .NET.
Now it seems to be .NET's turn to be dropped.
If you want to develop a .NET app then you need to stick with Express 2010 and don't even think about going forward with new editions. To stay current you have no choice but to convert your apps to Metro.
The bigger picture is even more confused, but it demonstrates what a suicidal path Microsoft is on. Earlier this week the Kinect 1.5 SDK was launched with lots of .NET code and facilities including XNA and WPF 3D graphics. Before Metro the Microsoft development universe was split into .NET/managed code and C++/COM. Now it is split three ways and there is no accommodation between the three - you basically have to back the winner.
Microsoft is telling you that Metro is its only candidate for a winner. According to Microsoft, WinRT/Metro is the only possible future.
If you don't agree then you need to start looking for an alternative desktop environment.
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