If you’re a student that is…
Microsoft have announced that they are going to offer VS 2008, Expression Studio, Server 2008 and XNA Game Studio 2.0 absolutely free if you can prove to them you are a student in a small set of countries – under the name of Microsoft DreamSpark.
Ignoring the fact that this is a blatant push by Microsoft to make sure the next generation of programmers are indoctrinated by there (in my opinion fantastic) tools, and that they are obviously trying to position Expression Studio as a direct alternative to Adobe’s powerful application suite, this can only be good news for all those companies that regularly work with Universities or have a past history of hiring graduates.
Whether you like it or not, Visual Studio is an industry standard when it comes to development IDE’s, and having a raft of students who are experienced in the nuances of the tool and the way it can be integrated with source control tools or network development for example can only help them fit into their role faster than before.
Of course it’s not without its problems, pushing XNA will cause issues for students especially if they start to rely on that as their primary development platforms, and I’m waiting for the day when I get demo after demo of Visual Studio 2008 projects and I have to rush around finding a copy as we’re still working with 2005.
For a bit more information on DreamSpark, have a read of this interview with Joe Wilson of Microsoft about the initiative.