The buzz has been around for a few weeks that SharePoint Designer would soon be a free download. Here is the official MS link with the download:
And here is a link to a post on the SPD Blog that discusses the different options for locking down SPD use:
The availability of SPD as a free download has created a few debates about the value of SPD – “SharePoint Designer a definite Maybe” by Mark Rackley and SharePoint Designer – More than a Maybe by Joel Oleson are just two that I have seen. Check them out- they should get you thinking!
Like just about anything else in SharePoint, SharePoint Designer is a great tool when it is used correctly The key is to understand what that looks like in your environment. It’s true that Designer isn’t the solution for everything, but it is also true that if you write it off as having no value then you are missing out on some great toolsets!