During European BizTalk Conference we were told BizTalk 2010 was going to be released before end of September and moment has come. It offers a developer edition, which can be downloaded. BizTalk Server 2010 Developer is a free edition of BizTalk Server that enables developers to build and test applications that run on BizTalk Server on both 32-bit and 64-bit platforms. BizTalk Server 2010 Developer includes all of the functionality of Enterprise Edition, but is licensed only for development, test, and demo use. Solutions from BizTalk Server 2010 Developer Edition can easily be packaged and deployed to a production environment that is configured with any other edition of BizTalk Server 2010.
Besides that BizTalk Server 2010 introduces a new feature “AppFabric Connect”, which combines rich proven features of BizTalk Server and the flexible development experience of .NET to allow users to easily develop simple integration applications (See Installing the BizTalk Server 2010 AppFabric Connect feature). AppFabric Connect uses Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) activities to programmatically access BizTalk’s LOB connectivity and data transformation capabilities. This enables users to easily create new composite applications using the WF model, which can be deployed, hosted, managed in Windows Server AppFabric.
You as developer can setup an environment using virtualization (VM-ware, VPC, Hyper-V or Virtual Box), Visual Studio 2010, BizTalk Server 2010 Developer, SQL Server 2008 Developer and Windows Server AppFabric. Not just that cause you could add Windows Azure SDK to it and you can start building all kinds of state of the art applications.