Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

It is my understanding that the Windows operating system (Windows 7 to be exact) must come with a C compiler because the OS is written in C.

How can I access such a compiler to compile my C source code?

share|improve this question
It doesn't come with one. You'll have to download a suitable compiler. – Sathya Mar 7 '14 at 7:45
er, you compile, build & ship the executable files. Much like how most closed source software is distributed. – Sathya Mar 7 '14 at 7:49
Windows doesn't come with its own code either. – jlliagre Mar 7 '14 at 7:49
What Sathya says is correct (at least for the versions of Windows I'm familiar with). Compiled code does not need a compiler to be present to execute. It is compiled before its put onto the disk and you only get the finished product which executes the, if you like, assembler code. – davidgo Mar 7 '14 at 7:49
No, it doesn't need an assembler either. It's all precompiled machine code binaries. The actual numeric opcodes that are directly executed by the CPU. – Spiff Mar 7 '14 at 8:06
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Not necessarily - You'd just need the necessary libraries - like libc or mscrt if they are dynamically linked, or just suitable runtime support for the binaries you are running . Even many linux distributions do not come with compilers built in (I often end up installing build-essential for Ubuntu when I need to compile packages for example), so expecting windows to have one built in is not correct.

You can run compiled files without a compiler on the system. Its interpreted languages that often need the language tools installed to run - like Java or Python

If you must have a compiler, there's two fairly common options - the open source mingw or microsoft's visual studio - there's a free version called visual studio express. Install and configure one and carry one.

share|improve this answer
There are others, of course, like OpenWatcom. There's probably a "What C/C++ compilers are available for Windows?" question somewhere. – JdeBP Mar 7 '14 at 8:56

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.