As I (and I'm sure many other people) predicted, Microsoft has decided that all of the Express Editions of Visual Studio won't, in fact, cost $49 at the end of this year, and will be free forever. Since their previous pricing plan made no sense whatsoever, I'm happy to see the change.
In other news, there's now a free version of SQL Server that includes full-text search (SQL Server Express Edition with Advanced Services, ugh), which was about the only thing missing from the free version that made it unsuitable for a lot of people. Now it should be a much more attractive product for a lot of small websites that can't remotely afford an enterprise database server.
That's excellent news. Although I would never use the Express Editions over Visual Studio itself, I'm sure there are lots of people who wouldn't otherwise be able to develop who now can. Perhaps .NET languages will gain more ground of Java and other "free" languages.
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