Wow, Microsoft has made all their Visual Studio 2005 Express Editions (c++, c#, VB, J#, etc.) free (they normally cost $49). This offer is active for 1 year (till November 2006), but you can use the downloaded version as long as you want.
So there is no reason for you to not try out Visual Studio 2005 now, if you haven't got a clue yet how cool it is :)
Download here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/express/