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Written by Oleksandr Gavenko (AKA gavenkoa), compiled on 2017-01-30 from rev ccaa2f364422+.

Microsoft visual studio.

MSVC downloads

Starting from 2008 MSDN no longer distributed in .iso files. To install help use "Help Library Manager".

http://vshelpdownloader.codeplex.com/
Tool for downloading base Visual Studio 2010 MSDN package for offline first installation.

MS SDK downloads

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=18950
Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 (ISO). Latest that inlude offline Platform documentation.
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=8442
Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 4 (latest that support Windows XP). ISO. Does not nclude documentation and require .Net 4.0.
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/bb980924.aspx
Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 4 (latest that support Windows XP). Web installer. Does not nclude documentation and require .Net 4.0.
https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/downloads/sdk-archive
Windows SDK and emulator archive.

MS SDK versions

Description VER
Included in Visual Studio 2005 v5.0
Included in Visual Studio 2008 v6.0A
SDK Update for Windows Vista  
SDK for Windows Server 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5 v6.1
Included in Visual Studio 2010 Express v7.0A
SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 3.5 SP 1 v7.0
SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 4 v7.1
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Windows_SDK#Versions
Microsoft Windows SDK Versions
https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/downloads/sdk-archive
Windows SDK and emulator archive.
http://web.archive.org/web/20100806195053/http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/dd146047.aspx
Which SDK do I install?

Register SDK to Visual Studio.

To check all available version:

cmd> cd %PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\vX.X\Setup\
cmd> WindowsSdkVer.exe -version

To check current used version:

cmd> cd %PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\vX.X\Setup\
cmd> WindowsSdkVer.exe -current

Register SDK:

cmd> cd %PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\vX.X\Setup\
cmd> WindowsSdkVer.exe -version:v6.1

MSVC versions.

Product Release C++ _MSC_VER MFC _MFC_VER ATL _ATL_VER

date version   version   version  
C 1.0     100        
C 2.0     200        
C 3.0     300        
C 4.0     400        
C 5.0     500        
C 6.0 1990   600        
C/C++ 7.0 1992   700 1.0 0x0100    
Visual C++ 1.0 1993 1.0 800 2.0 0x0200    
Visual C++ 1.1 1993 1.1          
Visual C++ 1.5 1993 1.5 850 2.5 0x0250    
Visual C++ 1.51   1.5          
Visual C++ 1.52   1.52          
Visual C++ 1.52b   1.52b          
Visual C++ 1.52c   1.52c          
Visual C++ 2.0   2.0 900 3.0 0x0300    
Visual C++ 2.1   2.1          
Visual C++ 2.2   2.2          
Visual C++ 4.0 1995 4.0 1000 4.0 0x0400    
Visual C++ 4.2   4.2 1020 4.2 0x0420    

          1.0 0x0100

          1.1 0x0110

          2.0 0x0200
Visual Studio 97 1997 5.0 1100 4.21 0x0421 2.1 0x0210
Visual Studio 6.0 1998 6.0 1200 6.0 0x0600 3.0 0x0300
VS .NET 2002 2002 7.0 1300 7.0 0x0700 7.0 0x0700
VS .NET 2003 2003 7.1 1310 7.1 0x0710 7.1 0x0710
Visual Studio 2005 2005 8.0 1400 8.0 0x0800 8.0 0x0800
Visual Studio 2008 2008 9.0 1500 9.0 0x0900 9.0 0x0900
Visual Studio 2010 2010 10.0 1600 10.0 0x0A00 10.0 0x0A00
Visual Studio 2012 2012 11.0 1700 11.0 0x0B00 11.0 0x0B00
Visual Studio 2013 2013 12.0 1800 12.0 0x0C00 12.0 0x0C00
Visual Studio 2015 2015 14.0 1900 14.0 0x0E00 14.0 0x0E00

With cl.exe versions:

NAME VER _MSC_VER cl
Visual Studio 6.0 (1998) 6.0 1200  
Visual Studio .NET (2002) 7.0 1300  
Visual Studio .NET 2003 7.1 1310  
Visual Studio 2005 8.0 1400 14.00
Visual Studio 2008 9.0 1500 15.00
Visual Studio 2010 10.0 1600 16.00

To check version from command line:

cmd# cl /help 2>&1 | head -n 1
Microsoft (R) 32-bit C/C++ Optimizing Compiler Version 16.00.30319.01 for 80x8
cmd# cl /help 2>&1 | head -n 1 | sed "s=.*Version \([0-9]*\)\.\([0-9]*\)\..*=\1.\2="
16.00

Reference:

http://bytepointer.com/msvc/index.htm
Microsoft Visual C++ Unofficial Changelists
http://mariusbancila.ro/blog/2015/08/12/version-history-of-vc-mfc-and-atl/
Version history of VC MFC and ATL
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Visual_Studio#History
VS History
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Microsoft_codenames#Visual_Studio_family
Visual Studio family

MFC versions.

MFC version Visual C++ version
1.0 Microsoft C/C++ 7.0
2.0 Visual C++ 1.0
2.5 Visual C++ 1.5
3.0 Visual C++ 2.0
3.1 Visual C++ 2.1
3.2 Visual C++ 2.2
4.0 Visual C++ 4.0
4.1 Visual C++ 4.1
4.2 Visual C++ 4.2
4.21 (mfc42.dll) Visual C++ 5.0
6.0 (mfc42.dll) Visual C++ 6.0
7.0 (mfc70.dll) Visual C++ .NET 2002
7.1 (mfc71.dll) Visual C++ .NET 2003
8.0 (mfc80.dll) Visual C++ 2005
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/3z02ch3k.aspx
ATL and MFC Version Numbers

ALT version.

ATL version Visual C++ version
1.0, 1.1, 2.0 None. Released to Web in Visual C++ 4.x time frame.
3.0 Visual C++ 6.0
7.0 Visual C++ .NET 2002
7.1 Visual C++ .NET 2003
8.0 Visual C++ 2005
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/3z02ch3k.aspx
ATL and MFC Version Numbers

MSVC and SDK compatibility

SDK ver MSVC releases
6.1 MSVC 2005, 2008 + express
7.0 MSVC 2008 + express
7.1 MSVC 2005, 2008, 2010 + express

Legacy VS 6.0

Processor pack is compatable with SP5 and incompatible with SP6. It adds support for SSE/SSE2 instruction set.

http://wayback.archive.org/web/20100923113933/http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vstudio/aa718349.aspx
Visual C++ 6.0 Processor Pack (for SP5).
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2105322/visual-studio-6-processor-pack-enabling-sse2
Visual Studio 6 Processor Pack Enabling SSE2
http://bytepointer.com/masm/vcpp5_readme.htm
Microsoft Visual C++ Processor Pack Release Readme
http://bytepointer.com/download.php?name=vc6pp5_procpack.chm
Docs.
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/3991043/how-to-install-vs6-sp5-and-proc-pack-on-windows-7
How to install VS6, SP5, and Proc Pack on Windows 7?
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/186207/visual-studio-6-processor-pack-compatibility
Visual Studio 6 Processor Pack compatibility

Build MSVC project from command line.

cmd> cd %proj%
cmd> %WINDIR%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\msbuild.exe  file.sln

'msbuild.exe' can not upgrade Visual Studio project files, so you better use 'vcbuild.exe' (which present in MSVC version 8.0/9.0):

cmd> cd %proj%
cmd> %MSVC_ROOT%\VC\vcpackages\vcbuild.exe  file.sln
cmd> %MSVC_ROOT%\VC\bin\amd64\vcbuild.exe  file.vcproj

cmd> cd %proj%
cmd> %MSVC_ROOT%\Common7\IDE\devenv.exe  /Clean file.sln
cmd> %MSVC_ROOT%\Common7\IDE\devenv.exe  /Build file.sln
cmd> %MSVC_ROOT%\Common7\IDE\devenv.exe  /Deploy file.sln

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms164311.aspx
              MSBuild Command Line Reference
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/kdxzbw9t.aspx
              VCBUILD Command Line
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/xee0c8y7.aspx
              Devenv Command Line Switches

Check linking problem.

Use '/verbose:lib' to see list of libraries for linking and thier order.

Buy MSVC.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/ru-ru/subscriptions/subscriptionschart.aspx
Сравнение подписок MSDN