Visual COBOL Build Tools for Windows is a separately-installable component of Visual COBOL that has been designed to be used in environments where you want to work with your COBOL projects but you don't want the overheads associated with the Visual Studio IDE. Examples of such environments are Docker containers and continuous integration (CI) or continuous delivery (CD) systems.
When using Visual COBOL in a traditional development environment you would access most, if not all, of its functionality through the IDE.
When working with COBOL projects in a containerized environment or a CI system you will want to carry out your tasks by running commands from scripts, batch files or Dockerfiles rather than from the IDE. You still need to be able to build, run, and debug your COBOL projects, but you want to do these things using commands rather than an IDE.
Visual COBOL Build Tools for Windows includes all of the functionality that is available in Visual COBOL for building and running COBOL projects but it does not include an IDE, giving the following advantages when you use Visual COBOL Build Tools for Windows rather than Visual COBOL:
The amount of space required to install Visual COBOL Build Tools for Windows is much less than the space required for Visual COBOL because Visual COBOL Build Tools for Windows doesn't include an IDE (or the support for one) and other components such as online help.
Installing Visual COBOL Build Tools for Windows is quick and straightforward due to its smaller footprint, fewer prerequisites and dependencies, and lack of installation options when compared to Visual COBOL.