The Express editions aim at two things, in my opinion:
- A Microsoft technology showcase.
- And with that an incentive to buy the professional versions.
Seems alright. Prior to the Express Editions one would have to pay, no matter what, to use a Microsoft compiler. So, this is a step forward. One can argue what features should and should not be present in the express editions. I for one think MFC should have been made available. But I'm wrong. And probably anyone else who comes up with other ideas. We are wrong because for every lack of a feature, there is a clear cut reason behind it. For instance, MFC is not made available in the express editions because obviously Microsoft intends to push .Net. Not an easy thing to do if you went and offered MFC for free.
As for the price... I don't know. I always had a somewhat twisted view around the cost of things. The only thing I don't like is the feeling of being ripped of. But other than that, I can accept any price as a just price.
Take the $700 for a professional version. Is it really expensive? I dunno, I've been known of spending 300 on a single night with friends, food, movies and drinking. Anyone here did the same? Probably even worst. So, exactly how much is 700 when one can spend half of that in the course of a week in absolute nothings?
For those with little money and double the skills and motivation, the situation can be more damaging. $700 IS money. But the market operates as it does. You don't sell based on income declarations. Besides, $700 is still really not that much money... 6 months of savings can bring you close to that, if not sooner.
I think... oops... that in fact the general price of software is cheap. Buy a few less games, a few less clothes and hang around the house a little more, and you can start your multi-millionaire business.