I don't think this will have any effect on ActiveState's strategy at all. Jan Dubois (Sr. at ActiveState) posted this on P5P regarding this subject:
in reply to MSVC and ActiveState
You could get VC++ for free for a couple of years already; it is part of
the .NET Framework redistributable.
I personally don't quite understand what you mean by 'what it might do to Activestate'. I'd think you mean by this that the only reason that Activestate exists is that they have the possibility to distribute a binary Perl. That's not what they make a living of. They have *tools*, like Komodo and the Perl Dev Kit. The ActivePerl distribution is free, so there isn't much of a difference now that MS releases their MSVC commandline stuff for free...
The new (and indeed very cool) thing is that now the code optimizer is
included in the free version too.
There is one thing I don't like about VC++ 7.0 and later: it no longer
uses the C runtime library that is part of the OS: msvcrt.dll. Instead
it now bundles a versioned library with each compiler release. We have
already seen msvcr70.dll and msvcr71.dll. So if you compile modules
with different compiler versions, you end up loading multiple runtimes
into your process. And if you want to wrap your Perl program with PAR,
PerlApp or Perl2Exe, then you'll have to ship all these runtime
libraries as well whereas you know that you already have msvcrt.dll on
each potential deployment system.
This is one of the major reasons we decided to stick with VC++ 6.0 for
ActivePerl in the past, and I don't see us changing that anytime soon.