As an alternative to VWD, you can choose to purchase Visual Studio 2005, which comes in a variety of flavors (Standard, Professional, and Team). Briefly, the Standard edition fully supports the creation of ASP.NET web sites. The Professional edition allows you to develop Windows desktop apps, and comes with Crystal Reports and fuller support for XML. Stepping up to the Team edition brings full support for Office development, all languages, 64-bit support, code profiling, static analysis, unit testing, code coverage, project management, and test case management.
Our recommendation: If money is no object or you are part of an enterprise
development team, then purchase the top-of-the-line MSDN subscription (Visual Studio
Team Suite with MSDN Premium). The approximate retail cost is $11,000 initially and
$3,500 to renew. For developers working on smaller projects, either alone or with
one or two team members, Visual Studio Professional with MSDN Premium will probably
be all you need, at around $3,000 initially and $2,500 to renew. Both of these
subscriptions include almost all the software Microsoft sells, plus four support
incidents and a free subscription to
MSDN Magazine. There
are many other subscription plans; check them out at http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/vstudio/aa718657.aspx.
On the other hand, if you don't feel the need to buy a Ferrari, or even a Corvette, to learn to drive, the free Visual Web Developer and SQL Express will be fine.