Martin Spedding had a discussion with friends in which they deduce that the young folks in software development are more interested in non-.NET platforms, tools, languages.

I believe that your friends observation is accurate of many recent college graduates. I also believe that the key to the young folks hearts is shedding the big bully image and time and money to make your software available to college students in a virtually free manner while also educating them and their teachers/professors.

Microsoft is doing two things to get into the minds of young developers:

1) They offer MSDNAA which is similar to and MSDN Universal license only better in most ways. The college or high school pays 400-700$ and they get all development related tools (VS.NET Arch edition) and most of the enterprise server software (Win 2003, Sharepoint, etc.). The really cool thing about this deal is that students can borrow the CDs and legally install this stuff on their own PCs!

2) Microsoft created a group called the Academic Developer Evangelists. There is a lot to the program but, as you can derive from the name, these folks are responsible for evangelizing .NET inside universities and high schools. This is something new to Microsoft so we'll see if they can pull off the implementation. Btw, Microsoft, if you need any more Academic Developer Evangelists then shoot me an email - I have some great ideas of how you can innovate in this space. =)