The rumor has been around for a couple weeks. And today Microsoft confirms it with an update on the SharePoint Designer page: you can now get SharePoint Designer for free!
For end users, SharePoint Designer (SPD) opens the door to more advanced customizations, starting with the access to SharePoint’s swiss army knife: the Data View Web Part (or Data Form Web Part).
However, before you rush to use your free copy, be warned that SharePoint Designer is a powerful tool, that can help you not only customize but also ruin your site. You’ll certainly see several posts on the topic in the weeks to come, starting with Mark Rackley’s timely post.
Enjoy, and stay safe!
Update: read the announcement and more details on the SharePoint Designer team blog.