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Ask not what you can do for Microsoft, but what Microsoft can do for you….

Over the past few weeks, it is possible you missed a few interesting announcements outside of the Microsoft/Yahoo venture. That was Microsoft‘s commitment to the Open Source movement (to be discussed in a later post) and Dreamspark.

Over the past few weeks, it is possible you missed a few interesting announcements outside of the Microsoft/Yahoo venture. That was Microsoft‘s commitment to the Open Source movement (to be discussed in a later post) and Dreamspark.

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Microsoft is giving away development and design software to university and high school students around the world through a program aimed at fostering technology innovation worldwide.

The software available to students through DreamSpark includes Microsoft’s development environment, Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition, and its Web and graphic design toolset, the Expression Studio, XNA Game Studio 2.0 (for game developement), SQL Server Developer Edition, Windows Server Standard Edition and other software and resources through the program.

In the next six months Microsoft expects to extend the program to college students in Australia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Japan, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia and other countries. And in the third quarter, the software will be available to high school students.

So I received a lot of emails and comments saying “it’s about time Microsoft gave something back.” My response, you don’t know the half of it.

Over the past few years, I have been involved in a half dozen Microsoft and user group initiatives in Southern California alone. And, every one of these is completely free of charge. Here are a few examples:

·         SoCal “Rock and Roll” Code Camp- Each year at Cal State Fullerton, Microsoft along with a dozen other companies sponsors a free Code Camp. Code Camp is a place for developers to come and learn from their peers. This community driven event has become an international trend where peer groups of all platforms, programming languages and disciplines band together to bring content to the community. This is two days of free seminars, tutorials, demos and classes taught by professionals and Microsoft employees and evangelists. The seminars are free and the speakers donate their time. That evening a dinner and live rock concert (hence the rock and roll portion) take place. This takes place every spring. Another in San Diego takes place the last week in June. Are there large seminars out there that people can attend? Sure. Big seminars have their place but don’t have a wide spread reach… code camps and other “camp” events can fill the gap. For more information go to http://www.socalcodecamp.com/

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·         Digigirlz– Digigirls is aimed at 12-17 year old girls who are interested in learning more about a career in technology.  Microsoft is hosting a day-long event on March 24th called Digigirlz Day.  The event is a fun and interactive day with activities, demonstrations, labs and talks with women and girls who are already working in the technology industry. DigiGirlz days are being held across the world. For more info visit Digigirlz here: http://www.microsoft.com/about/diversity/programs/digigirlzday.mspx

 

·         The Code Trip –  What’s a Code Trip? Think of it like Cannonball Run. Only slower, and geekier. The concept is to get out to the user groups, customers and influencers and meet with the people. Meet local talent and showcase new technologies. It’s a chance for folks to meet one on one with Microsoft specialists. Code Trip starts March 6th and ends April 15th after visiting over 28 cities. To learn more visit  http://www.thecodetrip.com

 

This plus Microsoft’s support of local and national user groups, schools, the Product Red campaign, webcasts, product training. TechNet events, virtual machine labs, free online training, Partner Events, etc…   

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So, looking to learn more about the technical world around you? Need to increase your knowledge, technical savvy or your visibility? Find these many free resources and utilize them. With all the copies of Windows, Office, etc… you have bought over the years, isn’t it time to reap some dividens? 

Stephen is Sr. Partner and Network Architect with Odyssey Consulting Group and a Microsoft MVP in Connected Systems.