I am trying to write hobby games for Windows / PC. When I used Visual Studio Express 2010, I am frustrated with restrictions placed on being able to add IDE customizations. For example, the code snippets tool doesn't natively support C++ unless I upgrade to Pro. For the same reason I can't add 3rd party extensions, like Snip2Code, unless I shell out some cash. From what I've read, and I certainly can be wrong, is that if I wanted Visual Studio with C++11 my best route is to install either Windows 7 or Windows 8 ($100-$200). But would I need to get Pro and shell out another $500? Does anyone have opinions and experience here? Like I said, I'm currently only a hobbyist. Spending $100 for a new OS is non-ideal but doable, but spending another $500 for a license on software that might be replaced a year later is asking too much. If I upgrade to a new tool is there typically a savings involved? Are add-ons difficult to code up? Are 3rd party applications typically expensive?
I do enjoy the features of the IDE, especially the Intellisense and pre-compilation error detection. However, I do not enjoy hunting through GUI menus to add libraries, include paths, etc. Maybe my experience would be a little better if I could control all of these build options from a text file and command prompt instead. I feel I'm giving up some control by just letting the IDE handle the build flow. I see CMake is touted in these forums so I may head that way. Is Powershell a worthwhile way of running on the command line?
In exploring alternatives I ran across Cygwin. Since I program on Linux for my day job this discovery was serendipitous. I've download the environment, copied source code from one of my Windows projects, created a Makefile, and after a bit of tinkering I got a natively compiled Windows program working without using any Cygwin DLLs. I use Xemacs / Emacs and I also uncovered CEDET: http://cedet.sourceforge.net/. Maybe I can have the best of both worlds?
Is using Cygwin a dangerous path to travel for programming Windows applications? Is there anything to be wary of? I'm looking for other user experiences.