Yesterday at the Launch 2005 event in San Francisco, Microsoft successfully launched Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005. The company also unveiled an unexpected announcement--for the next year, Microsoft will offer the new Visual Studio Express Editions to customers for free. After that, the price will be $49 per product.

"We are announcing a pricing promotion for Visual Studio Express," a notice on the Microsoft Web site reads. "For the first year after the products launch on November 7th, 2005, customers will be able to visit MSDN to download their copy of Visual Studio Express for free! Our customers are very excited about the release of these products, so this limited-time download is our gift to the hobbyist, student, and novice community."


The Visual Studio Express products include various versions of Visual Basic 2005, Visual C# 2005, Visual C++ 2005, Visual J# 2005, and Visual Web Developer 2005. SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, which replaces the Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE), will remain free. The Express Editions are designed for individual developers creating Windows applications, Web sites, Web applications, and Web services.

In related news, the deadline-driven release of Visual Studio 2005 has triggered griping from some developers who believe that Microsoft ignored numerous reported bugs in order to release Visual Studio 2005 at yesterday's launch event. However, the software giant maintains that all 24 of the partners on its customer board and the members of the Secure Windows Initiative Team signed off on Visual Studio 2005 last month, enabling Microsoft to start shipping the product this month.

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Customers interested in downloading any of the Visual Studio Express Editions or finding out more about these products canĀ  do so at the Microsoft MSDN Web site.

Direct download links:
Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition
Visual C# 2005 Express Edition
Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition
Visual J# 2005 Express Edition
Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition
SQL Server 2005 Express Edition