Great news - it was annouced a couple of days back that Visual Studio Express, originally offered free for one year, will now be free permanently!

Haven't heard of Express products before? Read this FAQ.

Not only are the Express products free, they are pretty lightweight and quick to install as well. They are awesome especially for hobbyist and student programmers who want to learn how to code or develop something quickly.

Per the FAQ, SQL Server 2005 Express will continue to be a free download as well.