Microsoft will be nodding to nonprofessional programmers with a new line of developer tools, including a free version of SQL Server.

The company launched the new line of "Express" brand developer tools at its TechEd Europe conference in Amsterdam on Tuesday. The lightweight editions of its Visual Studio line and SQL Server database are meant to expanding Microsoft's presence among students and hobbyists.

Microsoft executives also confirmed that beta versions of SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 are "imminent." Completed products are expected in the first half of next year.

More here.