Re: "Visual Studio is a paid-for product"
Microsoft's prices are certainly a bit insane.
I think that QuickBASIC 4.5 cost me ~£130 back in the early 90's. As a hobbyist, it was perfect. I should stress that this is the full QuickBASIC that could produce compiled .exe files, not the cut-down interpreted IDE that shipped with MS-DOS 5 and higher.
The alternatives were PowerBASIC (which I eventually moved to) or... Turbo Pascal, I guess?
Actually, the real alternatives were things like the C compilers, which I think cost more like £300 and upwards. You could start cheap with Borland or Microsoft C, but if you wanted something like Watcom you were going to have a very light wallet afterwards.
So what that purchase of QuickBASIC 4.5 got me was the ability to write little programs that I could share with friends without requiring any runtime or installation. (This was DOS, though, so that's not saying much.)
A decent dev environment costs money. I understand that. Compilers or runtimes take time and effort to develop. But free software has been going for over 30 years, and has accumulated millions of man hours of work - it's at least 90% there.
I just checked the prices of a Visual Studio Professional subscription. $1,199 for the first year, $799 renewal after that. I understand that you get a lot there - Azure credit, dev/test licenses for some Microsoft software - but that's still a very steep price.
By contrast, a couple of years ago I treated myself on my birthday to a subscription for all the Jetbrains products. All of them - IntelliJ IDEA, GoLand, Rider, PyCharm, Datagrip, and more - and it cost me £200 a year. It went down to £159 for the second year, and will be £119 a year this year and onwards. That's a lot of IDEs, and a lot of expertise.
If Microsoft wants to attract new developers, they need something that's down at the £250 mark.
Visual Studio Code doesn't cut it, by the way. It's great for PowerShell, and not too bad for C# - right up until you want to compile to an executable. Getting Visual Studio Code to do decent compilation is a bit of a pain.
Certainly more of a pain than anything from JetBrains.
If Microsoft want more developers using C#, they need to drop their enterprise-style pricing and make Visual Studio much more attractive. I know that there's a Community Edition, but the cost of the jump from free to non-free is incredibly high, it's no wonder everyone just goes off and uses something else...