I've long believed that people, on the whole, follow two principles:

  1. In general, they wish to do the right thing
  2. Overall they'll follow the path of least resistance

Which is why if you're a student, and wish to develop software, but can't afford to buy development tools, you have a dilemma between piracy or open source. The only way to be consistent with the both principles, is to choose the open source option.

But what if those development tools, rich in value, were offered to the same students for free, as long as they were studying?

Then there is no dilemma. You can choose to download either the vendor tools, or open source tools, or both and do a true, non-religious comparison based on the merits of the software.

Well, last night (Australian time) this became a reality as Bill Gates announced "DreamSpark", a program which allows all verified students to freely download Microsoft platform, design, and developer software.

The tools included comprise:

  • Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition
  • Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition
  • XNA Game Studio 2.0
  • 12-month free membership in the XNA Creators Club
  • Expression Studio, which includes Expression Web, Expression Blend, Expression Design and Expression Media
  • SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition
  • Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition
  • SQL Server Developer Edition
  • Virtual PC 2007
  • Visual Basic 2005
  • Visual C++ 2005
  • Visual C# 2005
  • Visual J# 2005
  • Visual Web Developer 2005

    The first wave of the program includes just 11 countries. However, we're working with the Australian Universities to implement the Identity Verification system, so that our students too can benefit from this great program.

    Watch this space....