Can you believe? I knew it from an Orkut C++ community: Microsoft is distributting Visual C++ 2005 Beta for free, yeah, free! I could not download it yet, I am not sure if that's due to security reasons (with MS the coolest downloads just go in that background way, so you can't download a file and install later) or due to lots of people trying the same. You can get the CD of course, 20 dollars. Microsoft Brasil does not distributte it, so they told me.
I once read an article that pointed that the Visual C++ guys at MS are not totally .NET dudes, so I am not surprised that Visual C++ is one of their best softwares ( with Word and Excel ).
I am actually totally fond of C#, not for XML, yadda yadda web services, ADO.NET, just simple and plain code and GUI. I am not totally happy with .NET but C# rocks...