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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Microsoft to give students free developer tools

Microsoft Gives Software to Nurture Future Coders
The DreamSpark program will provide programming tools to high school and college students worldwide.
Microsoft is giving away development and design software to university and high school students around the world through a program aimed at fostering technology innovation worldwide.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is expected to unveil the DreamSpark program Tuesday at Stanford University on the first stop of a U.S. and Canadian college tour. The program is now available to more than 35 million college students in Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.

Software available to students through DreamSpark includes Microsoft's development environment, Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition, and its Web and graphic design toolset, the Expression Studio. Microsoft also is making available XNA Game Studio 2.0, SQL Server Developer Edition, Windows Server Standard Edition and other software and resources through the program.

In the next six months Microsoft expects to extend the program to college students in Australia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Japan, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia and other countries. And in the third quarter, the software will be available to high school students as well, Microsoft said.

DreamSpark is part of a company-wide effort to work with local governments, communities and academic institutions worldwide to give potential technology workers a head start in the competitive job market to foster technology innovation and improve citizens' quality of life, especially in developing countries.

Microsoft also is trying to compete worldwide with open-source technologies such as Linux that are freely available to anyone and thus popular with student computer enthusiasts who may not be able to afford to purchase Microsoft products.

One major benefactor of DreamSpark is Aisec, an international exchange student program. Its 28,000 students will get software such as Microsoft's Office productivity suite, said Michelle Galant, vice president of communications.

Aisec, which has 1,100 offices in 100 countries, will also use the company's Exchange e-mail server, Gallant said. "It enables us to run offices and enables us to run our exchange program," she said.


Microsoft plans to allow college and high school students to receive key technical software for free, in a bid to familiarize students with Microsoft's software.

The program, called DreamSpark, aims to make several programs available to students worldwide for free; Microsoft has begun rolling the program out to college students in several countries, and will expand the program later this year. Microsoft also plans to make the program available to high school students.

In a speech at Stanford University on Tuesday, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates will disclose the program has rolled out to an estimated 35 million students Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.

Specifically, the software being offered for free includes:

1.Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition

2.Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition

3.Expression Studio (including Web, Blend, Design and Media)

4.SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition

5.Windows Server, Standard Edition

Students will also have access to Microsoft's Xbox development tools, the XNA Game Studio 2.0, as well as a 12-month free membership to the XNA Creators Club.

In an interview, Joe Wilson, senior director of academic initiatives for developer and platform evangelism said that DreamSpark was part of his mission of "hanging out" with students and educators, part of an evangelist program modeled after the friendly partnership that Guy Kawasaki tried to bring to the early Apple community. Wilson noted that others had asked why Microsoft was assisting students, and not businesses. He replied that companies like Microsoft and Dell had been founded by students interested in jumping right into the real world, but not necessarily with the proper tools.

Students also have the option of downloading, playing with, and learning from free versions of Linux, which competes with Microsoft's Windows and Windows Server OSes. Students also have the option of piracy to access software from Microsoft and other developers.

"Fundamentally, the software that you make is great currency," Wilson said, describing DreamSpark as a "big bold move". "For us, the focus is, is there a way to break down the barriers" between Microsoft and students, he said.

For years, some educational discounts have been modeled on the submission of a .edu email address as evidence that an individual attended some form of school. But the .edu email also allowed alumni to sneak in under the guise of a poor student. For DreamSpark, Microsoft is working with, a reseller of licensed academic software, which works with universities and sources of public information to determine whether a purchaser is actually a student, Wilson said, Overseas, Microsoft is working with Shibboleth, a single sign-on middleware program designed for identity management, he said.

Each student will be granted a full license to the software, which can be updated as the student moves through high school and college. While the license won't expire when they graduate, they won't have access to the updates, Wilson said.

"If you're going to try to make breakthroughs in tech, you need to give them the full stuff," Wilson said.

Wilson also added that he was happy to put homeschooled high-school kids on the honor system, and provide them software as well.

Microsoft expressed its full support for creative students in several countries, such as the United States, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, as part of the DreamSpark program, and said it will offer them high-end tools for software application development.

The program already started among college students in several countries, and Microsoft is ready to expand it even further this year. Starting this week, Microsoft’s Visual Studio Professional Edition for software development, Expression Studio for Web design and programming, together with XNA Game Studio 2.0 for video games, SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition and Windows Server Standard Edition will become available for free downloads for students.

"We give up some revenue, but we gain the fact that we'll get the feedback of these students, get more courses to incorporate our tools into the programs and get more startups where kids are familiar with Visual Studio, Expression Studio and SQL Server," Gates said in an interview, the Associated Press reports.

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