Microsoft gives students access to technical software at no charge
The Microsoft DreamSpark student program  makes available, at no charge, a broad range of development and design software for download. 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. Broad global coverage, as well as an expansion of the program to high school students around the world, potentially reaching up to 1 billion students worldwide, will continue throughout the next year. Gates will share details with students and faculty at Stanford University as part of a U.S. and Canada college tour that kicks off today.
"We want to do everything we can to equip a new generation of technology leaders with the knowledge and tools they need to harness the magic of software to improve lives, solve problems and catalyze economic growth," Gates said. "Microsoft DreamSpark provides professional-level tools that we hope will inspire students to explore the power of software and encourage them to forge the next wave of software-driven breakthroughs."
Priming the Talent Pipeline
Microsoft DreamSpark is available to all students whose studies touch on technology, design, math, science and engineering. Students of today are more technical in their everyday lives than ever -- representing both their personal interests and what is expected of them when they arrive in the workplace for the first time. The following cutting-edge software will be available to empower students to unlock their ingenuity by building critical skills:Microsoft developer tools. Visual Studio is the Swiss Army knife of computer programming. These professional-grade products provide a security-enhanced and reliable environment, enabling students to program everything from a cell phone to a robot or to create their own Web page. Students will also be able to invent compelling new gaming content and make their dream game a reality by porting their creations to their Xbox 360 console.
* Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition
* Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition
* XNA Game Studio 2.0
* 12-month free Academic membership in the XNA Creators ClubMicrosoft designer tools. This ultra-versatile suite of tools will enable students to vividly bring their creative visions to life in vibrant new Web site designs and more effective digital content, including animation, imagery and photography.
* Expression Studio, including
- Expression Web
- Expression Blend
- Expression Design
- Expression MediaMicrosoft platform resources. The foundation for development and design platforms, these products deliver a security-enhanced, reliable and manageable environment for students to more quickly turn ideas into reality.
* SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition
* Windows Server, Standard Edition
"The opportunity, as a student, to use the same professional tools that I can expect to use after I graduate gives me a real head start in my career," said Nathan Murith, a computer science student at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, who tested the service in a pilot before today's launch. "I'm already getting more out of my studies, applying my learning to try out new ideas, and gaining new insights into careers in software design and development."
Demand for Software Expertise in All Marketplaces and Economies
Technological innovation is a critical economic growth engine and is expected to generate 7.1 million new jobs in the global economy over the next four years, according to a study of the economic impact of IT across 82 countries and regions carried out in 2007 by IDC and commissioned by Microsoft. The same study found that the IT employment base will grow to 42.5 million people, with the sharpest growth occurring in developing nations.
"Technology is the ignition key for job growth, economic development and creating sustainable solutions to global problems," said John Gantz, chief research officer at IDC. "The emerging economies are forecast to drive over 25 percent of the new IT jobs over the next four years. These jobs will be driven by an evolving, highly skilled labor force. Tech skills are key to employability."
In the next six months, the company expects to expand Microsoft DreamSpark to college students in Australia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Japan, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia and many more countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe, as well as to high school students by the third quarter of 2008. Students should check Microsoft's Challen 8 Web site  for regularly posted updates to see when Microsoft DreamSpark will be available to them.
Microsoft is working with academic institutions, governments and student organizations around the world, such as the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) Association, to ensure the necessary local student identity-verification technology infrastructure exists to bring Microsoft DreamSpark to all students in markets around the world. The program will be expanded as fast as this community-based effort with government and organizations can be connected at a local level in new countries.