Is there a compiler or IDE for C on Windows that's regarded as an industry standard?

Taking advice from this post, I purchased a copy of 'The C Programming Language' and am happily reading my way through.

However, all the stuff I've written in the past has been interpreted, and I have no idea where to look for a good C compiler or an IDE (is there even one?). Google searches throw up a lot of results for C++ compilers, which I don't think is the same thing? Haha. I was wondering if there is a compiler or IDE for C that's regarded as an industry standard (kinda in the same way that Zend Studio is pretty much the IDE for PHP), or at least one that is generally considered to be a good quality product.

Edit: I can only accept one answer, but thanks a lot to everyone.


Well, Visual Studio is the standard on Windows, and there are free versions available. However it does have a bunch of Microsoft specific extensions. For learning though, developing console apps are pretty easy and also fairly close to the standard K&R style C.

However, way back in the day I used to use Watcom, which was also pretty good for the time. It's a lot more sparse than Visual Studio, but that can be an advantage for a beginner. I believe it's also available for free these days at

I'd probably recommend starting with that, if your main O/S is Windows.

I'm surprised no-one's mentioned Pelles C. Great little C IDE for Windows; includes an LCC-based compiler. That said, NetBeans 6.5 has decent support for C and C++, and Code::Blocks is well worth a whirl.

Most people use Microsoft Visual Studio for development on Windows. You can get a free version here:

Usually GCC is used on Unix, and is typically included with the OS.

C and C++ are very similar, but C++ allows classes. Most C++ compilers will compile C code.

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