If you want to get a taste of the new Visual Studio 2008 development features but you’re not quite ready to jump in and purchase the Visual Studio 2008 Standard or Professional edition, then you might want to start small by downloading one of the free Visual Studio 2005 Express products. Unlike the Standard and Professional editions, which support all the different languages, types of windows, and Web development within a single environment, the express editions are split out according to language and development paradigm. The Visual Studio 2008 Express family includes:

  • Visual Basic 2008 Express
  • Visual C# 2008 Express
  • Visual C++ 2008 Express
  • Visual Web Developer 2008 Express

As you might expect the free express line of products don’t have the full set of features supported by the Visual Studio 2008 Standard or Professional edition, but they are surprisingly capable development tools and are a great way to get some hands-on experience with LINQ and the many other new Visual Studio 2008 features. You can download the Visual Studio 2008 Express editions from www.microsoft.com/express/product.