Microsoft targets next generation developers with free software

Microsoft is giving away development and design software to university and high school students around the world through a programme aimed at winning the next generation of developers to its products.

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Microsoft is giving away development and design software to university and high school students around the world through a programme aimed at winning the next generation of developers to its products.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates will unveil the DreamSpark programme today – 19 February - at Stanford University. The programme will be available to more than 35 million college students in the UK, Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the US.

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 school students as well, Microsoft said.

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.

More information about DreamSpark can be found on Microsoft's MSDN developer site.

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