A couple years ago I switched from using Matlab to Python as my go-to programming language (when not doing embedded stuff or stuff that needs to be fast, for that type I use C++). I decided to switch mainly because Python is free (as in beer and speech). But the learning curve was a bit steep because I spent a lot of time setting up an IDE, gathering libraries and other crap that isn't fun like programming.
Thankfully, some kind souls have created python(x,y): https://code.google.com/p/pythonxy/wiki/Welcome
It makes getting started with python as easy as downloading a single executable (albeit a large one). It has everything you'll ever need: nice Qt GUI development tools, the Spyder IDE, matplotlib for matlab type ploting, numpy and scipy for matlab type numerical calculations, auto-finish, auto-help (when typing a functions name, the help doc for it pops up). There are tons and tons of other libraries and everything is automatically installed nice and neat so it works right out of the box.
In case it isn't obvious, I highly recommend python(x,y) for any one wanting to try out python (especially if they've used matlab). I've shared it with a few guys at work and they like it as well (but of course they don't appreciate how hard it would be to set something like this up by hand).