Microsoft Gives Software to Nurture Future Coders

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 Aiesec, an international exchange student program. Its 28,000 students will get software, said Michelle Galant, vice president of communications.

Aiesec, 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.

Editor's Note: Contrary to initial reports, Microsoft Office and Exchange are not part of DreamSpark. Updated February 24, 2008.

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