I heard the interview of Mike Taylor (the CEO from Instantiations) and his wish, that more students are entering the VA community and bring the same innovation into this world as it can be seen from Squeak/Pharo.
I do not think, that this will happen – simply because of some reasons (the same is valid for Visualworks I guess):
* price of the end product
* license restrictions
* product restrictions
Even students sometimes want to buy the stuff, they are using or at least they want to have a real possibility (in the future) to buy it. This is practically (in their sense) not possible (due to high prices) – perhaps Dolphin is an exception here. Perhaps paying for such a product would be easier, if these students know, that they will benefit for their future job when using these tools. This is a bad point for Smalltalk in general.
Working on a home projects is difficult, when you know, that the license agreements will allow you just to play with your own code – but that’s it. No commercial usage possible.
Other problems are, that you can not build these nice GUI looking tools with the newest technology available from Linux and/or Windows.
In contrast to these ideas one has to look at VisualStudio (Express). You may start up working with that tool, build small tools and even commercial based stuff. No problems with that … at no costs.
And thinking about Java – well, with all these nice tools from (older) Instantiations for free … I think, that no further words are needed.