Introducing Visual Basic 2010 Express

Visual Basic 2010 is the fourth version of Visual Basic that runs on the .NET framework and the tenth overall version of Visual Basic.

The .NET (pronounced “dot net”) Framework, initially released in early 2002, is a software framework that runs primarily on Microsoft Windows. It includes a large class library that provides functionality for user interface, data access, database connectivity, web application development, numeric algorithms, and network communications to name just a few.  Programs written for the .NET Framework execute in a software environment known as the Common Language Runtime (CLR), an application virtual machine that provides important services such as security, memory management, and exception handling. The class library and the CLR together constitute the .NET Framework.

Programmers produce software by combining their own source code with the .NET Framework and other libraries. .NET supports several programming languages, with Visual Basic (VB) and C# (pronounced “C Sharp”) being the ones most commonly used. Microsoft produces an integrated development environment (IDE) for .NET software development called Visual Studio, which includes Visual Basic.

The version history of the .NET Framework and Visual Studio line up as follows:

.NET Framework Version

Year Released

Visual Studio Version



Visual Studio .NET



Visual Studio .NET 2003



Visual Studio 2005



Visual Studio 2008



Visual Studio 2010


Note that “.NET” was dropped from the name of Visual Studio since 2005, replaced by the release year. The names of the Visual Basic (“VB”) versions coincide with the Visual Studio versions (so technically “VB.NET” refers to the version of VB included with the 2002/2003 versions  of Visual Studio.NET, followed by “VB 2005”, “VB 2008”, and “VB 2010”). However, many use the term “VB.NET” in a generic sense to refer to the current version of Visual Basic and to distinguish it from the pre-.NET versions of VB (also referred to as “classic VB” - versions 1 through 6).

The pre-.NET versions of VB are versions 1 (released in 1991) through 6 (released in 1998). Visual Basic version 6 (“VB6”) was then the last pre-.NET version of Visual Basic, and is also referred to by many as “Classic Visual Basic”.

Since the 2005 release, Microsoft has also been making “Express” versions of development software available. The Express versions are free, standalone versions of components of Visual Studio, such as Visual Basic, C#, and Visual Web Developer. In this set of articles and tutorials, we will be using Visual Basic Express 2010, which can be downloaded free from Microsoft.