Microsoft Woos Academic World

Continuing efforts to woo academia, Microsoft Thursday
said it will release Visual Studio .NET 2003 Academic Edition to U.S.
schools in conjunction with professional versions of the development
environment. Additionally, the source code for a number of environment’s
components will be made available under Microsoft’s Shared
Source Initiative
through an Academic Tools Source License.

The company also announced the 25 recipients of its 2003 Microsoft Research (MSR) University
Relations Innovation Excellence research grants. Microsoft selected the 25
recipients from 152 submissions, and will award $3.5 million to the chosen
projects.

The open source community has made tremendous strides in the halls of
academia, where a platform like Linux has great appeal for students because
it is free and it can be taken apart and examined. This has the potential
to become a big problem for a company like Microsoft, which is generally
regarded with antipathy by the open source community for its perceived
ruthless business practices and the jealous guarding of its secrets — a
practice that is at loggerheads with a culture that has grown up with the
mantra “information needs to be free.”

A future in which generations of young programmers are brought into the
Linux fold and not trained to utilize Microsoft platforms could be a
disaster for the company. To combat this problem, Microsoft created the
Shared Source Initiative, a program which gives access to the Windows
source code to certain customers, partners, developers and academics.

“Today’s announcements are about working with academia to foster innovation
and help students and professors be successful,” said Eric Rudder, senior
vice president for the Developer and Platform Evangelism Division at
Microsoft. “Academic developers are defining the future at educational
institutions around the world. Our mission is to make our software and
programs so easily accessible that students and educators are limited only
by their own imaginations.”


With the new Academic Edition, and the Shared
Source Common Language Infrastructure
(CLI), also known as ‘Rotor’ —
which offers up the core source code of the .NET Framework — Microsoft
aims to give students and educators a look under the hood of its
environment and allows them to use multiple programming languages,
including Eiffel, Scheme, C# and Java to learn their craft.


“The Shared Source Initiative, and particularly ‘Rotor,’ is vital in
helping us achieve the learning objectives of our .NET MSc Distributed
Systems Development graduate program,” said David Grey, professor of
computer science at University of Hull in England. “We strongly believe
that providing our students with the inner workings of the .NET Framework
and the Shared Source CLI as part of this degree program will give them a
significant edge in research and in expertise needed to excel in the areas
of Web services and mobile and distributed computing.”


Visual Studio .NET 2003 Academic Edition will be available through
subscription to the MSDN Academic Alliance program, which computer science
departments can join for $799.

The Visual Studio .NET Academic Tools Source Licensing Program will become
available through the Shared Source Initiative in summer 2003, providing
access to the source code for Assignment Manager Server, Assignment Manager
Faculty Client and Assignment Manager Student Client. The program will
allow professors, students, academic researchers and independent developers
to use, modify and redistribute the licensed source code of the Assignment
Manager for both commercial and non-commercial purposes, including the
creation and distribution of derivatives for non-Windows-based
applications.

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