Thanks to today’s patch by Christian Heimes to the Python trunk, it’s now possible to build Python out-of-the-box using Microsoft’s free [beer] Visual Studio 2008 Express. Whatever your views may be on free compilers and so on, this is great news for MS-types like me. I have effectively no experience using Visual Studio, but I simply did the MS download dance, double-clicked on the .sln file in PCBuild9, selected Release and hit Build. All that remained was to build the few modules which require external code. I didn’t attempt _tkinter, _bsddb or _ssl which are considerably more tricky (and which I never use) but _sqlite3 and bz2 built easily following the README instructions.
Many, many thanks to Christian for making this work. All that remains now is to see if I can build extensions!