The links eventually guide me to download vcvs2019_50.exe but it demains VS 2019 which I do not have.
When you click on the link provided by Micro Focus, it takes you to a page that shows 12 items. Here are the first 2 items:
To use Visual COBOL for Visual Studio 2017, you will need to select the first item, and you will be downloading the setup vcvs2017_50.exe. As indicated, "Visual Studio 2017 is required to install this product", so you need to install Visual Studio 2017 prior to run vcvs2017_50.exe
If you don't have Visual Studio 2017, you may download Visual Studio 2017 Community, which is free and available at https://visualstudio.microsoft.com/vs/older-downloads/
It sounds like you went to the download page for the Visual COBOL Personal Edition product instead of the Free Trial.
The difference is:
Visual COBOL Free Trial version
Full product release with a 30 day license for evaluating the product.
Supports both Visual Studio 2017 and Visual Studio 2019 and Eclipse
Includes access to MF Support
Visual COBOL PE version
Restricted product release - 2200 lines per program with a 1 year license
Educational tool for learning COBOL
Cannot be used in production
If your intention is to learn COBOL and you will not being doing any serious development for use in commercial applications then you should download the Visual COBOL PE product.
If your intention is to evaluate the product to see if it suits your requirements for developing your commercial applications prior to purchasing a full version then you should download the Visual COBOL Trial version.
In both of these cases you will have to download and install the appropriate version of Visual Studio prior to installing Visual COBOL.