Microsoft has said it will provide university students in the UK with free copies of the latest Microsoft developer and designer tools.
The Microsoft DreamSpark student programme makes available, at no charge, a broad range of professional development and design software for download. DreamSpark is available to more than six million Higher and Further Education students in the UK today. In addition, the programme will expand to provide access to secondary school students throughout the next year.
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Karen Price, CEO at E-Skills, said, "The UK's productivity and future competitiveness depends on making the most of technology. Microsoft is an active supporter of e-skills UK's campaign to make the UK world class in technology skills and helping the workforce of the future to develop valuable IT skills."
Jean Phillippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International, said Microsoft wanted to give students access to the tools to help them prepare for a job in IT. He said, "42% of all jobs in IT are for people with Microsoft skills." This represents more than 14 million jobs globally. "There are lots of opportunities," he said.
"No matter what choices our students make today and in the future, information communication technology skills are set to play a far more significant role in their lives than they have done for their predecessors," said Steve Beswick, director of education at Microsoft.
Microsoft DreamSpark is available to all students whose studies incorporate technology, design, maths, science and engineering. For example, students of history who need to analyse complex historical data can benefit from database software and supporting tools.
The free tools include Visual Studio 2008 and 2005 editions, XNA Game Studio 2.0, 12-month academic membership of the XNA Creators Club and Microsoft's Expression Studio design tools. Additionally, students will also be able to obtain free copies of SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition and Windows Server, Standard Edition.