Free Stuff from Microsoft
Microsoft is giving away lots of free stuff. No questions asked..
Here are a few products that you can download and use absolutely free of charge.
The Microsoft Express series is available here. You can download versions of Visual Studio:
- Visual Basic 2008 Express
- Visual C# 2008 Express
- Visual C++ 2008 Express
- Visual Web Developer 2008
These products offer much of the capability included in retail versions of Visual Studio. Don't think of them as 'crippled' or 'limited' versions. Not every advanced feature has been included, but the products offer more than enough functionality for beginners and intermediate developers.
At the Beginner Developer Learning Center you can find tutorials that get you started using each of these products. And it's still free. Check it out here.
Microsoft also offers a free version of their flagship database program, SQL Server. Download SQL Express from here and you can begin creating advanced databases immediately. If you're a novice database programmer, here are some tutorials to get you started.
Microsoft is under intense pressure from competitors. Sun Microsystems (now Oracle) gives away Java development software and also offers a free database manager called mySQL. They even offer free online support. If Microsoft can convince you to use their products at home and at school, then hopefully you'll ask your employer to provide them for you at work.
Apple has been using this strategy for years. They practically give away computers to school districts, hoping that the kids will ask their parents to buy the same hardware at home.