For those of you who have been hoping for a 64-bit version of Visual Studio, Microsoft has no current plans to make one. There have been many customer requests over the years for a 64-bit version to resolve out of memory issues, better handle solutions with large numbers of projects, and to improve performance.
Microsoft had not made a formal decision on this matter until recently. Although they seriously considered porting it, they eventually decided that they will not be undertaking the effort. This response has been met with disappointment from many developers.
Here are some of the reasons Microsoft gave to keep Visual Studio 32-bit:
- The benefits are not worth the investment and resultant complexity
- Various use cases require the 32-bit version, and providing both 32-bit and 64-bit versions would not be feasible (i.e. increased testing effort, etc.)
- There is a large number of Visual Studio extensions, and they would also need to be ported
- For code and data that already fits into a 32-bit address space, there would be no performance benefits, and in some cases it could actually degrade performance
- For code and data that doesn’t fit into a 32-bit address space, developers are encouraged to think about making design improvements so that they do
Some of these same arguments can be made any time you are considering a move to a new architecture (i.e. when we moved from 16-bit to 32-bit), and are not necessarily reasons to not move forward. I see all of this eventually moving to 64-bit, but there are no plans for this to happen any time soon.
At least Microsoft is trying to address some of the concerns that caused developers to make this request in the first place. In particular, there now seems to be more of a focus on improving performance and making Visual Studio more lightweight.
With the recent release of Visual Studio 2015 Update 3, there is a reduced memory footprint and decreased CPU time to idle related to code diagnostics. This should help with some of the out of memory errors that developers experience. Also in Visual Studio 2015 Update 3, Microsoft improved the performance of the C# “GoTo Implementation” and “Find All References” features, as well as when Visual Studio reloads C# and Visual Basic projects in large solutions.
A Roslyn post on GitHub provides some additional tips for improving performance when dealing with large solutions.
Microsoft is looking to make future versions of Visual Studio more lightweight by providing a new installer that will allow developers to pick and choose just the features that they need. You can download and try out the next version of Visual Studio for yourself.