A bouquet of freebies for students from Microsoft

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Any techie worth her binaries would salivate at the thought of genuine software worth several hundreds of dollars, free of cost. This alluring proposition has a name – Microsoft’s Dreamspark.

Dreamspark is a software giveaway packed with tools ranging from Visual Studio, Visual C#, Expression Studio 2 to SQL Developer 2008 Express, said Sriram Narayanan, director- academic access programmes at Microsoft.

“For the truly geeky-nerdy,” there is a robotics kit too, he added. The pack also includes a gaming SDK (software development kit) to develop PC games that can be ported into the Xbox console. Some part of the software pack may require a download, which can be accessed through a licence key provided with the pack.

The programme was launched at Bill Gates’ alma mater Stanford University in the U.S. in February 2008 and was rolled out in India in November 2008, at a function in IIT-Delhi.

The intent is not only to reach students in metros, but also those in other towns and villages, said Mr. Narayanan. This is part of Microsoft’s initiative to participate in the educational development of students all over India.

“This software is for all students,” said Mr. Narayanan. To distribute this free software pack, Microsoft has partnered with institutes such as NIIT and Aptech and Hughes Net.

The company has also approached educational institutions so that the CDs can be distributed among students. Other options such as having the software in the college server, so that students can choose the “least path of resistance,” to access the software are being explored, he said.

Along with the software, certain “jumpstart” courses have also been designed for a low fee, said Mr. Narayanan. So, you could take a 10-hour or 15-hour courses at the centres on different topics related to the software provided.

Microsoft has also planned soft skill training courses where presentation and language skills would be included.

The software design, short film and photography contests at the Imagine Cup, a contest organised by Microsoft, are linked to the software. The 2009 contest winners get to go to Egypt.


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