Additional profile information on Alfred Thompson at Google+
Channel 9 has an interesting interview with Soma Somasegar, the VP in charge of Visual Studio. Soma talks about how much Microsoft values Visual Basic (among other things). One of the things he does is list a number of line of business applications (applications that Microsoft uses to run the business of the company) that are written using Visual Basic. He also talks about Bill Gates having a strong interest in future developments in Visual Basic. If you had any concerns about the long term support of Visual Basic this would be a good interview to listen to.
He also talks about his group and their relationship to the SQL group and other topics. It's an interesting listen.
You and your students have probably heard of Windows Live the new interactive home page from Microsoft. One of the great things about Windows Live is that you can add all sorts of Gadgets to do interesting things. There is a web site where you can find gadgets that others have written already. Some of them are very cool and useful. They are interesting examples of what can be done.
This project way also be just the thing if you have students who are doing a lot on their own but who are looking for something a little bit different from what they have done so far.