Kudos to Microsoft: Visual Studio Express Tools Free Forever!

I just learned that Microsoft has decided to make the Visual Studio Express tools free forever. This to me shows Microsoft’s acknowledgment that people are not willing to invest their time learning a product that they will eventually have to pay more for then they have funds available or earmarked, especially young people. I greatly applaud this move, and I wish more software vendors would do this with their products (and I’m thinking of component and tools vendors for .NET developers.)

But how can companies make money giving away their software? I believe software has a lot more value to someone once they’ve learned it and can concretely understand it’s value after which they would be more then happy to spend their money to upgrade to more advanced features.However, to those software vendors who think they can release a free but essentially crippled product, don’t.  No one will waste their time learning to use a crippled product. 

We are in a new era, one where software is not so much viewed because it offers value to a user but instead viewed by whether it is worth someone’s time to learn. This because of the plethora of software (and information) available and because most people won’t realize there is value is software until after they have learned it.  A software vendor’s job today needs to be to convince someone that their product is worth that person’s time to learn.

4 Replies to “Kudos to Microsoft: Visual Studio Express Tools Free Forever!”

  1. This is straight forward anti-competitive behaviour.

    You make a good point about "we are in a new are".

  2. >> This is straight forward anti-competitive behaviour.

    Interesting comment. Assuming we simply call it "competitive" behavior, I would tend to agree with you.

    Based on your comment, however, I assume you mean "anti-competitive behavior" to have a negative connotation. Personally, I don’t necessarily think that that competitive behavior is a bad thing. What’s more I think in this and many technology related contexts that created a defacto-standard platform where there is shared-learning and shared value creation (i.e. in this context, open source projects), the benefits of competitive behavior far outweight the negatives.

    Anti-competitive behaviour is especially bad where it provides certain types of control, such as when the control is geographically related (i.e. only one ferry company servicing an island), but in the context of technology I think it is often a good thing. The reason is that technology constant evolves, and the way to strike down a monopolist (that’s what you were really referring to, right?) is to introduce disruptive technology and play by new rules.

    Many people felt it wasn’t possible to take down Microsoft, but what about Google? They have the potential to disrupt Microsoft in a big way, and they will do it by offering the world more value by following new rules. Along those lines, isn’t it better to have lots of companies being "anti-competitive" and giving away lots of things for free while aggressively ramping their value proposition than it is for everything to cost more because it would otherwise be considered "anti-competitive?"

  3. Visual c++ express is a big waste of time. Doesn’t support MFC.
    There is no free lunch. MS is simply chumming with this effort.

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