I'm glad to see someone at Microsoft realised the notion of making most of the Express product line free for download for only a year was a poorly planned marketing snafu , and today updated the FAQ for the Express products making them free forever. As the Express products are great for RAD development of modules, as well as getting up to speed quickily via the very handy starterkits , this is good news though it's how it should have been from the start IMHO, as it gave a mixed message that was gleefully pounced upon by all the slashdotters/anti-MS crowd out them.
Equally welcome is the release of SQL Express With Advanced Services , which add's full-text searching and SQL reporting services capabilities, as well as finally supplying a useful GUI. How long until someone creates an alternative search provider that uses Fulltext?
From the Express FAQ
How much will these products cost?
Effective April 19th, 2006, all Visual Studio 2005 Express Editions are free permanently. This pricing covers all Visual Studio 2005 Express Editions including Visual Basic, Visual C#, Visual C++, Visual J#, and Visual Web Developer as well as all localized versions of Visual Studio Express.
SQL Server 2005 Express Edition has always been and will continue to be a free download.
Visual Studio 2005 Express was previously promotionally discounted to free for a year, why did you decide to change the price to free permanently?
Previously, we announced that Visual Studio Express would be available for a promotional price of one year. We have now extended that period so that Visual Studio 2005 will be free permanently.
Do customers who downloaded Visual Studio Express products before April 19th, 2006 have to pay?
No, Visual Studio Express is free for everyone.