In response to a question at last Friday's Silverlight TechFest event, I said that I believed Beta 2 was supported even on Visual Studio Express.
I was incorrect. XNA supports Visual Studio Express (and I had been reading about XNA the night before), but Silverlight requires at least Visual Studio Standard. Standard is pretty reasonably priced at well under $300, but it isn't free.
For now, if you want to experiment with Silverlight, I suggest any of the following:
- Purchase Visual Studio Standard or better
- Download and use the 90 day trial of Visual Studio Standard or Professional
In addition, I recommend that you use the free Expression Blend 2.5 June preview. You don't get a code editor (which is necessary for any real work), but Blend can open and compile Silverlight sample applications that you download. Combined with the purchased or trial version of Visual Studio, you get a well-rounded design and development environment.
Scott Guthrie had the following to say regarding the eventual tooling support for Silverlight (emphasis mine):
"Today's VS Tools for Silverlight download requires VS 2008 Standard or higher, and doesn't work with the free VS express editions.
"Visual Web Developer 2008 Express SP1, though, will enable support for class library and web application projects. Once the final SP1 release occurs this summer we'll update the VS Tools for Silverlight download to work with it as well - which will provide you with free VS tool support for Silverlight development."
So there will be a free developer solution for Silverlight in the future. Given that Scott said SP1 will be out this summer, the free 90 day eval version should bridge most or all of that gap. Hope that helps clear up any confusion.