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Microsoft offers free Visual Basic 2005 Express tool

Microsoft has long pursued the hobbyist and student software community with inexpensive and easy-to-use development tools. It is redoubling that effort, rolling back pricing on its new Visual Studio Express tools line. For one year, Visual Basic, C# and Web Developer software in the Visual Studio Express family will be available for free.

Visual Basic 2005 Express is one of five free development tools in the Visual Studio 2005 Express line.

Microsoft has always been willing to accommodate the hobbyist or student with inexpensive and easy-to-use software development tools. It is proving that willingness again as it has rolled back pricing on its new Visual Studio Express tools line.

Visual Basic, C# and Web Developer software in the Visual Studio 2005 Express family will be available for free. (Microsoft initially announced, in November 2005, that the Express line would be free for one year, but later opted to make this suite free forever.)

"In the enterprise we pushed the development toolset forward with Visual Studio Team System. But, we haven't forgotten the broadest set of developers we serve, which are these Web developers, and students, and enthusiasts, and hobbyists," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the keynote crowd at this week's Visual Studio 2005 launch.

Ballmer's words were followed by the news that the Visual Studio 2005 Express tools are being offered for free download during the one-year period that began Monday with Visual Studio 2005's formal launch.

Meanwhile, the professional Visual Studio line ranges from a non-upgrade Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition that begins at $299 to a full-fledged Visual Studio 2005 Team System product with Test Load Agent for $5,089.

VB users may ask if code from Visual Basic 6.0 will work in Visual Basic 2005 Express.

The answer is that Visual Basic 2005 Express includes a migration wizard that will help import existing Visual Basic 6.0 projects. But, Microsoft notes, "manual adjustments" may be needed. Noted as well is the fact that the Express products are not officially supported.

Microsoft surprised many last year when it announced $49 versions of key tools. Others viewed that move as a counterpoint to a surge of open-source and free software development tools online. The latest price reduction would appear to be more of the same.

"We want to make sure that as people enter the profession of programming, that they can start with our development tools, they can start with the .NET run time, they can start with our IDE, and these tools can keep growing as they get out in the world professionally," said Ballmer.

"We think it's also very important that we continue to reach out over the Internet to folks who have a more constrained budget," he said.

Visual Basic 2005 Express Information Download Page - Microsoft

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