Microsoft announced that it intends to give students some of its most advanced development tools – for free! Here’s some official coverage over at MSDN. So how do we interpret such a move? Is it an act of desperation or one of sheer brilliance? I personally think its a pretty astute move.
By giving away Visual Studio Professional, along with a slew of other development tool’s they’re trying to gain traction with Student’s – and shape their thinking. As a student I couldn’t afford to buy the Microsoft development tools, so always opted for Open Source tool’s and technologies and working with those tools, and indeed contributing to them, which shaped my thinking and the path that I eventually took. It’s unclear how receptive Student’s will be to this – but make no mistake this about winning hearts and minds, and if you can win them at an early age then your onto a winner – that’s the gamble.
I personally think it’ll be nice to see some more competition … whilst I love Open Source I often think that many OS projects, particularly dev tools, tend to rest on the laurels or assume that since the competition is so expensive it doesn’t necessarily matter if the UI isn’t as good as it should be, or it doesn’t have as many features as a commercial equivalent – User’s will learn to accept any shortcomings. Now as a developer I’ve used many IDE’s and many many tool’s and even I have to admit that Microsoft’s tools are wonderful, in fact it’s interesting to think of which way I would have gone eleven or twelve years ago if MS had provided a similar incentive for us?
I have to confess the cynic me does wonder if this is simply a case of closing the gate after the horse has bolted?