I think there's a drastic improvement over vc6.
The vc7 compiler was rewritten competely; it's completly optimized and produces much faster and efficient code. Also, the STL templates were rewritten and are now virtually bug-free. vc6's STL library was full of bugs. The IDE is also integrated with the other .net languages, whereas vc6 used it's "own" ide.
Also, intellisense and debugging have improved quite a bit.
But that's true: it does take a lot of space, but having a 160 GB harddisk doesn't matter much). These days, most computers are coming with 80GB+ hard drives.
Also, vc7 doesn't work with win98, but who has win98 nowadays?
One thing missing is integrating D with visual studio .net (can be called vd7 ). I don't think that's hard to do, since visual studio.net is very "pluggable".
I'm not sure if windows emulators for linux can emulate visual studio. has anyone tried?