If you are a student (as in any student) in college you can get significant free software through http://Dreamspark.com.
- In fact you can get Windows Server 2008 R2, which you could use as a client instead of server on a Laptop, but that requires a little effort, it COULD replace Vista on a Laptop. But that would be advanced users, and because drivers for Laptops may not work with Windows 2008 R2, you have battery exhaustion problems, and so forth.
- With Windows Phone, you could create Windows Phone Apps that you can sell using the Expression Studio 4 tools with little or no programming needed.
- Virtual PC can be used on Vista and XP, but isn’t needed for Windows 7 which has the Virtual PC built into the operating system
- Some of the products are free and are offered in Dreamspark so that they are in the same link
- Free Visual Studio 2008 Professional
- Pluralsight offers free (professional grade) training