A couple of years ago, Microsoft made a major announcement about the future of Visual Studio, the software that most serious software developers use for creating Windows programs. Instead of charging around $1000 for Visual Studio, it would be available for free for non-commercial use. So if you want to try Visual Studio in order to produce programs for your own purposes, or software that you intend to give away rather than sell, you can now get the full Microsoft Visual Studio suite for free.
The latest version of Visual Studio is the 2017 edition and, as promised, Microsoft makes it available as a free "Community" edition. It's the same software development environment that costs serious money for use by commercial developers, but you can get it for free as a non-commercial user.
Just head to https://www.visualstudio.com/free-developer-offers/ to start downloading it. Note that this is a seriously large program that will require upwards of 10 GB of hard disk space on your computer. It is also a large download, which is regarded as trustworthy by Web of Trust and is malware-free according to the antivirus software I use (it's too large for VirusTotal).
Note: Ensure that you download Visual Studio Community. Don't download Visual Studio Code, as this is a different product and is nowhere near as useful or powerful.
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