Recently I had a hand in finally trying out compiling a plugin for Maya. Here's a bit of information regarding the setup. I am using Maya 2014, Windows 7 and Visual Studio Express 2013. 

So Visual Express 2013 is a free version of Studio Express and for a lone developer, it is free from Microsoft. Kudos to Microsoft because I have to say that they are changing for the better and the userbase is starting to benefit. 

You can get Studio Express here:
Studio Express 2013

And here is another interesting tutorial from Chad Vernon:
The HelloWorldCmd

And here are the settings that you require in the Project Properties 

Configuration Properties > General:
Extention: .mll
Toolset: Visual Studio 2013(v120)
Configuration: .dll

Configuration Properties > VC++ Directories:
include: ";$(WindowsSDK_IncludePath);C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Mayaxxxx\include" 
lib: ";C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Mayaxxxx\lib"

Configuration Properties > C/C++ 
Additional Libraries: ";C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Mayaxxxx\include"

Configuration Properties > C/C++ > Preprocessor

Configuration Properties > Linker >  Input
Additional Dependancies: "Foundation.lib;OpenMaya.lib;OpenMayaUI.lib;OpenMayaAnim.lib;OpenMayaFX.lib;OpenMayaRender.lib;Image.lib"

Configuration Properties > Linker >  Command Line
Options: "/export:initializePlugin /export:uninitializePlugin"

Basically you have to include all the relevant libraries and includes that is necessary for your build. Looks like Studio Express 2013 has everything that you need, and you don't require the Windows 7.1 SDK.