This is cool. Microsoft is giving out Visual Studio Express for one year.

During the launch event for Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 yesterday in San Francisco, Microsoft unveiled an unexpected surprise for individual developers: For the next year, its line of Visual Studio Express products will be offered to the public for free. After that, the price reverts to the previously-announced $49 price 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.”

Details here.

Alex Eckelberry