Often, students and colleagues come up to me and enquire how do they get started learning about some of the newest technologies. They generally do not seem to have issues with getting the study materials (most common study materials are the many blogs on the Internet and MSDN documentation). The one thing they do have issues with is procuring software to practice their skills on.
Software, like any other commodity has a price. It takes a large amount of money to envision, design, develop, test, market a piece of software. Documentation and after sales support and training are also expensive for any ISV. This stands true for the Microsoft software as well (Operating Systems, Visual Studio, SQL Server and other products). While Microsoft does have the Microsoft Student Partner program for students, the program cannot cover every student in every university on the planet. Also, the program is not available for anybody else who would like to get started on a little programming. So, if you want to get started on one of the new Visual Studio or SQL Server editions and can do without the advanced design, development & test capabilities; then the following are perhaps the pieces of software that you are looking for:
- Visual Studio Express Editions Home page – http://www.microsoft.com/express
- The following products can be downloaded from: http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/en-us/products/2010-editions/express
- Visual Studio 2010 for Windows Phone
- Visual Studio Web Developer 2010
- Visual Basic 2010 Express
- Visual C++ 2010 Express
- Visual C# 2010 Express
- SQL Server Express Editions Home page – http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/en/us/editions/express.aspx
- Visual Studio Lightswitch – http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/en-us/lightswitch
The most attractive part about these “Express” editions is that they are free. However, the salient benefit is that these editions are covered by Microsoft support. They are eligible for automatic product upgrades and you can get all the technical support that you would need.
The other benefit is that you now own a licensed product for free. Isn’t that a wonderful? I use them on my test system at home, and have never felt the need for more.
Until we meet next time,