Oh the irony...
If this isn't a huge slap in the face of many licensed .NET developers then I don't know what is.
Think about it: first they came with the mess that is VS2012. In all fairness it needs to be said that Microsoft has managed to undo some of the idiocy (such as initially enforcing colour schemes which gave many people headaches). However, it's also fair to say that it wasn't so much Microsoft but more so a handful of people / developers within Microsoft who came up with the temporary solution. To my knowledge the theme editor I'm referring to here was created by one man.
And then we got VS2013. This undid more of the nastiness, brought colours back to the several icons and added some other common stuff. Of course; people who already got a VS2012 license don't have to expect any leniency or something. If you want to upgrade you'll simply have to purchase a full license again.
So now we're up to VS2014. The first thing which springs to my mind when looking at those screenshots is: "Gee, that looks even more like VS2010 than before". That might be a step in the right direction, for sure. But I also notice that Microsoft (tried to?) sell 2 extra licenses in between where both versions (VS2012 and VS2013) were met with a lot of criticism and scepticism.
From where I'm standing VS 2010 developers who bought into the new VS (2012) got an unwanted interface change (no colour in icons and braindead colour schemes) and only after purchasing 2 extra licenses (2013 and the upcoming 2014) do they finally get (most of?) their trusted 2010 interface back.
Which makes me wonder why you'd want to upgrade in the first place? I've had many discussion with 2010 developers who pitied me for not being able to get hold of a 2010 license (the only one sold was 2012 when I stepped in) and now I more or less pity the newbies who can only get their hands on 2013 or up.
Now; I maybe cynical here but I have to admit that the Express versions are very impressive and do their job excellently. However... I would be more impressed if I could still obtain a stand-alone license like I did when I got VS2012. Although the Express versions are good, there are many situations in which a license is better (think about being able to combine projects such as a .NET library and a web project).
Am I being too cynical you say? I doubt it. Lets put it another way: if these new versions are all that fantastic, then why is Microsoft still providing access to the VS 2010 Express versions?
If you want to step into ASP.NET then my (very bias) advise is simple. Try to get hold of a (second hand if you must) license but don't go higher than VS2012. Then become familiar with Mono, slap it onto your Apache environment and go from there. It doesn't support all the full modern features but I'm still pretty sure you'd still be impressed with the stuff you can do with it.
And the best part: Visual Studio can fit the project like a glove.
No subscription nonsense for me, thank you!
Yeah, it really is surprising how Microsoft continues to lose money these days... I don't get it. I paid approx. E 400 - E 500,- for my VS2012 license and consider it money well spend. Now you can only step in around E 1000,-. And only on a subscription level; so if you end your subscription you no longer can use the program any longer.
Timeless and free Express license anyone?
No, I really don't get it how Microsoft manages to loose revenue this quickly...