I'm sure readers of this blog know...but it's surprising how many people don't: The .NET Framework, our "crown jewels" in terms of our developer platform, is completely free of charge for commerical use as long as you have a valid copy of Windows to run it on.

What does that mean? It means you can develop web applications, client applications  and mobile applications for nothing: you can just download the framework, the compilers, the common language runtime (CLR) and use it commercially.

But don't you need to buy Visual Studio? Well, the short answer is no: You can download and use the Visual Studio Express products which are completely free of charge, and pretty much suitable for all but the big heavyweight projects. Or if you wanted to of course you could just use Notepad - sure it's easier with a tool but you don't *have* to use one. I know people who code ASP.NET using notepad.

So why am I telling you this? Well for people who aren't familiar with .NET but have a background in PHP or Java or Cold Fusion we've recently launched a simple "learning" website that helps you get to grips with .NET in five steps - and makes the point that .NET free.

ZDNet have just reported it too. Let me know what you think.