While I was travelling last week two new product releases 'snuk' out. Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 and XNS Games Studio 3.0. Both now supporting the VS 2008 products which makes for a more comfortable environment on Vista.

Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio (MRDS) 2008 has some important changes to licensing as well as exciting feature additions. There are three "per-seat"  licenses:

  1. Express. Some feature limitations - 64 objects in the simulator, no simulator editor, no VPL compiler, no multi-node VPL and no support for Windows CE! There are no rights granted to distribute the runtime. This is a pretty big list of take backs which is disappointing - although the original Express did not grant runtime distribution either.
  2. Professional. Everything is included, full function and a right to distribute the runtime as much as you like. Cost $499
  3. Academic. As professional except free via the MSDN Academic Alliance scheme.

There is plenty of new stuff go look here for details

In addition to some of the core programming and tools features there are also some new cool simulations. Most of these are included in the Professional edition due to the Express editions 64 entity limit. The Apartment sim is included in Express and gives you a great place to start perfecting your new 'Roomba' navigation algorithm. The Urban simulation provides a 'DARPA Urban Challenge' like environment in which to perfect your autonomous ground vehicle.

All in, running the pro edition, I'm very happy with the new version. Lots of stuff to explore and understand. Lots of opportunities with my current robot projects including delivery of a full release of services for my Whitebox Robotics PC-Bot 914 - called A1-DW. This has been an on going effort challenged mainly by lack of free time.

Microsoft XNA Games Studio 3.0. I haven't got to do a lot of playing with this yet. But two key things stand out for me. Community Games - enabling us to publish our games via the Xbox infrastructure and receive a revenue share with Microsoft - 10million potential customers!! And the ability to program the Zune platform - ok for Europe this is pretty useless at the moment, but one can only hope Zune will make it across the Atlantic at some point and with new control versions that make it more appropriate for game play. I like the idea to build for Zune - I only have an original version and the controls aren't much cop for my normal game genre (action shooters), so one needs to be creative with the game design for Zune.

Download XNA Game Studio 3.0

Over the next month I plan to blog more on my MRDS projects and on XNA 3.0. I'm still new with XNA so plenty to get to explore and I intend to have a lot of fun doing so.