Windows 7 released to the general public last week so I have to start with a couple of Windows 7 links. OK maybe I don’t *have* to but there are a couple I wanted to share.

From the Teacher Tech blog there is a list of 7 things teachers will like about Windows 7. From the Microsoft UK Schools News Blog there is “What is it like to be one of the first schools using Windows 7” I know that a lot of schools stayed with Windows XP and didn’t move to Vista. I really hope most of them will take a good honest look at Windows 7. I do believe this is the time to upgrade.

Also coming so is a new version of Visual Studio. last week the beta of this product was released for people who want an early look. You can get any of the beta editions at the Visual Studio homepage.

You can find some Visual Basic “How Do I” Videos for VS 2010 at the Visual Basic Team blog. And over at Channel 9 they have a Visual Studio 2010 training course.

In other big announcements last week, Microsoft has donated the MSDN Academic Alliance program memberships to every high school in the state of Illinois. From the press release:

With financial support and assistance from Microsoft Corp., the Illinois State Board of Education announced plans to provide more than 640,000 high-school students with an opportunity to use professional-level software tools to develop work-force skills and prepare for post-secondary education by participating in the “bliink” Web design contest, whose theme “I Imagine a Green Future�� focuses on environmental sustainability. Students will compete against each other for cash and prizes by developing a Web site using Microsoft Expression Web software, which will be donated to every high school in Illinois as part of the Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance (MSDNAA) program. Tutorials and curriculum units, created by a team of classroom teachers, and mapped to national standards, will also be provided at no charge. Microsoft’s software donation has been valued at over $4 million.

I’ve blogged about the Expression Web design course in the past of course but if you are in Illinois now you have another reason to look at it.

Last week at the Massachusetts state-wide STEM conference a new program called Digits was announced.

The DIGITS program introduces sixth grade students to a corps of STEM professionals –called STEM Ambassadors – who work in science and technology-based careers, are enthusiastic about their jobs, and interested in interacting with students.STEM Ambassadors, recruited from companies throughout the state, volunteer to visit sixth grade classrooms to tell their personal stories and engage the students in a series of interactive, multimedia exercises that help them overcome their fear of STEM subjects, encourage them to be more open to math and science, and stimulates their ability to visualize themselves in STEM jobs and careers.

It looks pretty interesting and I am pleased that Microsoft is one of the companies that is planning to provide volunteers to help with this effort.

Also at the STEM summit I participated in one of the workshops where a number of people and organizations shared resources and ideas for incorporating computer and Internet technology in schools. You can find the wiki with resources at http://wingspread102009.wikispaces.com Most of the resources I contributed are listed under the name Guarin because Edwin Guarin from my team was a key contact early on.

Science today is more and more about the data – lots and lots of data. A new book about this is now available for free online. It is called The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery It was produced by Microsoft Research and a friend of mine was one of the co-editors. Its an interesting read though and give lots of insights into the future of scientific discovery.

From  @Microsoft_EDU on Twitter I found this link to a neat educational download. This featured free template from Office.com is a complete school report notebook kit with cover, binder spine, and divider tabs for Word 2007. Check it out.