Use of the .NET Micro Framework is much easier through Microsoft Visual Studio. Although it is technically possible for you to create a series of Microsoft Visual C# files (*.cs) and define an MSBuild project that results in an executable capable of being run on a .NET Micro Framework device or the Extensible Emulator, doing so wouldn't be a very fun experience and would be fraught with potential errors. One benefit of the .NET Micro Framework is that it allows you to focus on the actual problem you're trying to solve, so it is not necessary to understand arcane command-line switches (and errors) and runtime internals. By integrating with Visual Studio, we made the development process as painless as the creation of a desktop application, and we provided a few wizards to guide you as you create, edit, deploy, and debug your projects.
For those advanced (or masochistic?) developers who prefer to know all the gory details of what is happening under the hood, you can still find them if you go digging, but we are not going to cover much of that detail here-doing so would violate the spirit of the platform.
As such, the .NET Micro Framework installation requires that Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition, Professional Edition, or Team System is already installed. Visual Studio Express is not supported at this time.