Microsoft declared Visual Studio 2005 Express "forever free" last week, extending the no-cost deal it initially said would end a year after the software's November 2005 release.
Visual Studio 2005 Express joins SQL Server Express in Microsoft's portfolio of entry-level freebies. Intended for hobbyists and students, the Express editions have limited functionally and streamlined user interfaces. However, their licenses do allow commercial deployment.
The software is available for download at Microsoft's Web site.
Since its launch five months ago, Visual Studio 2005 Express has seen 5 million downloads, according to Microsoft. The Redmond, Wash., company recently added several new application development starting kits designed to plug Express into its Coding4Fun Web site, including a tool set for programming Lego Mindstorm robots.
All of Microsoft's programming-language Visual Studio Express varieties are included in the free offer: Visual Basic 2005 Express, Visual C# 2005 Express, Visual C++ 2005 Express and Visual J# 2005 Express.