On March 31 Microsoft announced that SQL Server 2014 Developer Edition will now be free, though you have to be registered for their free Visual Studio Dev Essentials. So free, but you do have to be registered for their other free stuff. Not too bad of a deal. They explicitly state that SQL 2016 will also be released for free when it finally hits market, presumably all future editions will likewise be free.
I didn’t mind spending $50 for a DVD of Developer Edition, I thought the price was perfectly reasonable for what you get. Free is even better, but you need to manage your archives to preserve what you’ve downloaded. And we’ve always had the Express edition available for limited free deployment, as long as your app could be content with 1 gig of RAM and 10 gig of database size. And the absence of the Agent, forcing you to use the Task Scheduler to get your jobs running at scheduled times. It was a good way to learn alternative ways of doing things.
Does anyone remember Borland’s ‘Turbo’ books? They were really cool in the mid/late ’80s. Get a full compiler plus a text book on how to write in that language for a pretty good price. It’s a little silly to miss things like that with the free compilers that are available, especially if you have a Linux box running, and all of the free language tutorials that are all over the Web. Still, I kinda miss them.