I have been using an old version of Visual C++ for years. As my old pc started to slow down and exhibit signs of giving up the ghost, I bought a laptop and installed the same old version of VC++. After a little digging on the net, I was able to find instructions on how to do this. Fortunately it worked. However, over the last couple of months, it has become somewhat unstable. Linking randomly fails, then works after I restart the program, etc. I wanted to avoid paying for the most recent version of VC++, so I decided to use the free GNU C++ compiler. Now I had to find an IDE.
Initially, I chose Eclipse, since I had played around with it while experimenting with python. It seemed overly complicated for python, but I decided to give it a try. However, I ran into one of the problems with open source software, lack of support. The installation manual for Windows was out of date with respect to the underlying packages, such as MinGW, etc. It took me two mornings of constant web searching and extreme frustration to configure all of the Windows and Eclipse paths to get it to work. Frankly, I could not replicate what I did as I could not find the necessary information in one location. It was scattered among various blogs, forums, and tutorials. I just did not like the look and feel of Eclipse as it is overly complicated for my purposes. When I was unable to get the Boost C++ Libraries installed, I finally gave up on Eclipse.
I am an applied mathematics and algorithm guy, not a computer science guy. For me, computers, operating systems, programs, and programming are means to certain ends, not ends in and of themselves. Also, I will always be the only person using my codes. I have no interest in “builds”, Github, etc. All I wanted was a simple IDE and debugger that was easy to use, much like VC++.
After some surfing, I stumbled on to Code::Blocks, a free C++ IDE for Windows, Linux, and MacOS. I was able to install it quickly without any hassle using the Windows installer (GNU C++, GNU GDB, and MinGW were bundled). I was able to get it up and running without any problems. The user manual was helpful here. My first test code compiled and ran flawlessly. With a look and feel like VC++, I was able to be productive with a minimal learning curve.
For anyone interested in C++ for Windows, I highly recommend Code::Blocks.