It has come to my attention that only a few people know of the existence of the Express line of products in the Visual Studio suite.
When Visual Studio was launched it deployed also as a free "Express" line of products. Continuing with the SQL Server Express tradition that ships free; Microsoft released a free line of their programming language editors. Visual Studio is an integrated development suite, however; their free set of products was released as independent programming language environments. Visual Basic, Visual C#, Visual C++, Visual Web Developer (all in their 2008 edition) are shipping for free from Microsoft. Their functionality is basic, but they are ready to help you deploy some serious applications for exactly $0 of your budget.
Of course, Visual Studio 2008 has different releases that build up more functionality (and are not free). Visual Studio 2008 Standard comes as the next step with a combined IDE for all languages. The next step up is Visual Studio 2008 Professional, followed by Visual Studio 2008 Team System. Each version building up from the previous ones and adding up more functionality such as the ability to build Windows Mobile applications supported on the Professional version. So if you are looking at developing desktop applications (VB, C#, C++), web applications (ASP.Net) even with access to SQL Server you can look into spending your budget on anything other than software, because you can do it for free with Microsoft’s tools.
Here you will find the tools ready for download:
Visual Studio 2008 Express Edition:
Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition and Standard Edition Product Comparison