Microsoft DreamSpark due in NZ later this year

DreamSpark programme offers free development tools to students

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.

The programme has yet to be launched in locally but is expected to arrive here later this year, according to a spokesperson for Microsoft New Zealand.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates unveiled the DreamSpark programme last week at Stanford University on the first stop of a US and Canadian college tour. The programme is now available to more than 35 million college students in Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK 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 programme.

In the next six months Microsoft expects to extend the programme 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 says.

Microsoft 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.

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

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