By now most people reading blogs or news about Microsoft know that Visual Studio .NET 2005 has been released. What not everyone knows much about are the options for schools, teachers, and students to get copies. For most schools the best way to get Visual Studio .NET is to sign up for the MSDN Academic Alliance programs. For colleges and universities (institutes of higher education) there is the regular MSDN Academic Alliance program (http://www.msdnaa.net) which has more software in it than the average secondary (high school) school could ever need. There is also a special program for high schools (secondary schools) that provides Visual Studio .NET for US $299.00. This program provides a license to install VS .NET on all computers in the teaching lab, all teacher preparation systems (at school and at home) for teachers teaching programming. It also allows students to install the software at home at no additional charge. It's quite a deal. The Visual Studio the school gets is the full featured professional edition. No short cuts here.
Now if you are a student on your own or perhaps you are a teacher running an independent study course or perhaps you have to wait until next year for any funds (we've all been there!) there is an other great option. The Express Editions are available for free (as in download and install and pay nothing) for a limited time. The Express Editions are available in versions that support Visual Basic .NET, C#, C++, J# or Web Development. The idea is that you install only the languages you need which makes the installation faster and easier. You can of course install several or even all of them. You can get the Express Editions here. The Express Editions use a less complicated interface that was designed with student and hobby programmers in mind.
BTW if you are installing the Express Editions on a number of systems or want to help students with low speed Internet connections the Manual Installation instructions may be useful for you.