Recently, Microsoft released Visual Studio 2005 and now offers free stripped down Express Editions for everyone to download. The free offering ends sometime next year and its an excellent way to explore the next system.
I downloaded the C++ Express Edition (EE) to get a look and feel of the package. It reminded me of the powerful Delphi IDE framework with its easy GUI designers, but in new, nice visual colors and pop up windows that seem to come from all angles! At one point I must of had altleast 100 windows opened, sliding left, right, up and down in the IDE!
However, the most striking feature is the entire framework designed around external communications with Microsoft MSDN Online and the outside internet world. It is an OPT-OUT feature. The entire help system, the search system, the integration with other web sites called CodeZone, is built-in right out the box and they don't make it easy to turn off. Even then, after turning it off, I wasn't confident it wasn't still going out the internet sending or collecting information. I got so paraniod that I know disconnect my internet connection every time I start the Visual Studio Editor.
The issue of Security vs Privacy sparks many debates. My concern is not so much with Microsoft, but with everyone else jumping on board and doing the same type of activity.
Microsoft has opened Pandora's Box.