July 6, Microsoft has begun beta testing a free and lightweight development tool for the ASP.NET web application framework called WebMatrix.
WebMatrix includes all of the essential tools for building, installing, and running a website in Windows for free and in a package less than 50MB in size. These tools include IIS Developer Express for building and testing ASP.NET sites and applications, SQL Server Compact Edition 4 database engine (which works with .NET-based data APIs and ASP.NET Web apps,) and the ASP.NET programming framework.
Sites can then be built from existing open-source applications such as WordPress and Drupal or Joomla, from a site template, or
purely from scratch. WebMatrix then installs everything you need on your machine, lets you tweak your code, and then deploy the site to your host.
While there is a learning curve to the software, it is intended to be used by developers of any skill level, and can serve as a stepladder up to the fully featured Visual Studio.