Today must be one of those really rare days when really strange and wonderful things occur. This morning I happened across the skiing robot (see previous post) then, just a few minutes ago, I found out that Microsoft is offering free copies of their Basic, C#, C++, and Java# 'Visual Express' programming systems.
According to the blurb on the Visual Studio Express webpage, these are "Lightweight, easy-to-use, and easy-to-learn tools for the hobbyist, novice, and student developer."
They might not be robust enough for some heavyweight robot developers, but if you're just learning or don't push the curve too hard, they might be just the ticket. Be sure to check out the FAQ on their website for any limitations.
In addition to the four programming editions, they are also offering 'Express Editions' of the Visual Web Developer 2005 and SQL Server 2005.
[Thanks to Dave Hylands & Henry Miller for the heads-up]