I've been messing with MIDI since my first keyboard (a Korg Poly, 1984!) and started with software-based samplers back in 1999 when I got Gigasampler LE for Christmas....
This one was done in Finale 2006, so I didn't have to learn the controllers right off to make music!
I've actually done several things now with GPO/Finale combo, and can say it is a VERY nice tool to either rough out one's ideas or get a pretty decent rendition. I've heard some very nice things on this board so far, and look forward to learning and sharing as I have time.