Being in the IT field I have used Microsoft products for a long time. One of the secrets I have found is Microsoft's TechNet Subscription. With the TechNet subscription you get learning material, articles & news, but the biggest benefit is the software you have access to. For about $350 a year you get access to almost all of Microsoft's software in a demo form (non-expiring). You can't necessarily use this for production use in a business, but you can use it for "Testing purposes". I typically download most of Microsoft's software, Office 2007, Office 2010, SharePoint, Server 2008......& then use it at the office and at home for "Testing purposes". This is a great way to get a head start learning the software before the company you work for starts to rollout the new products.
Links: Microsoft TechNet
If you have any questions or feedback let me know.