C compilers for Microchip: HI-TECH or CCS? Free or pay?

(2-9-12) I edited this to try and correct some erroneous statements. To see my HI-TECH tutorials, check here -> http://tech-tut.com/hitech

This is now a touchy subject for me. I started reading a book Programming 8-bit PIC Microcontrollers in C…by Martin P. Bates in August. It explains how to write C for MCUs, and I feel that the book does a great job at it. The book focuses on the CCS compiler from CCSINFO.com. You might have read about the cost of this compiler in the big Microcontrollers blog www.tech-tut.com/?p=258. It is $150.00 for the mid-range MCUs. Ok. Keep this in mind. Here’s my story.
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