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Microsoft released today the final builds of Visual Studio 2012 on MSDN. I'm trying to decide from this version comparison page which edition to install (I can install any edition I want for free). I'm a solo developer who develops mostly web apps and console apps in C# and Python. Some of the features in Ultimate/Premium look potentially cool (like UML and "historical debugging"), but most of the features I will not need, or have never heard of.

On the one hand, it would be nice to have the features in case I want them someday. On the other hand, for some software products, the extra features cause the higher end editions to (1) be slower and use more memory, and (2) have a more cluttered UI.

Is this the case with Visual Studio?

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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Short Answer: Install the version that fits your bill

There is no down-side from installing the higher end version of Visual Studio, except the disk space that it will potentially be occupied during the install AND during the actual run and debug processes.

As you may know or not, Visual Studio creates a number of temporary files on your disk. Cleaning them up or setting process to do that automatically might be handy for you.

The Ultimate and professional versions are having same requirements for minimum system configuration to run them. Here is a detailed product comparison article for VS 2010 - COMPARE PRODUCT FEATURES. I also assume that there will be no big changes in VS 2012 as well.

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Also, don't install the 2012 Ultimate RC if you're going to need to install a lesser edition of the RTM. Not that I did that or anything. –  Sean Aug 16 '12 at 1:05
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I'm a big fan of YAGNI principal (though it's defined for software development, I do believe that it's applicable to real-world scenarios too). If you don't need it, then don't buy it. Buy it just when you need it.

If you don't need it, don't install it, no matter how small would be the resources dedicated to it. This is a culture. After a while you see that you have many services and applications on your computer, while you don't really need all of them.

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The UI is pretty correct in Visual Studio Ultimate. There are more features, especially in the context menu, but those additional features are not too obtrusive. Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate also feels as quick as other versions of Visual Studio 2010.

The main downside is the space it takes both for the ISO and once installed. If you want to install Visual Studio on your SSD which is not very large, this may be an element to encourage you using another edition of Visual Studio.

Given the features which are available only in Visual Studio Ultimate and given the fact that some extensions require the Ultimate version (code contracts static checking was an excellent example in the past; it seems that now, it is available for other versions of Visual Studio too), Visual Studio Ultimate is a good deal, unless you have a very small SSD and don't have money for a larger one.

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From a practical point the only issue with installing Ultimate is whether the person that manages your code after you will also have Ultimate. It's pretty easy to use features only available in the higher end SKU's for your project which will make it more difficult to maintain by someone with a lesser SKU. Especially Ultimate vs Professional. If that will never be a problem definitely go with Ultimate it has too many great features to not install it.

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