Microsoft wants more students using its software tools and it thinks it has hit on the right business model.
It's going to give away its software.
Starting this week, college students in 10 countries will be able to get Microsoft's Visual Studio and several other programs for free as part of an effort dubbed DreamSpark. Over the next year, Microsoft plans to offer the program worldwide for college and high school students.
In addition to giving away its Visual Studio tools, Microsoft is also providing no-charge access to its Expression Web design tools and its XNA studio for developing Xbox 360 software. Microsoft already provides discounted academic versions of its software, as well as a free "express" version of Visual Studio. Students can also get free copies of Windows Server and the developer version of the SQL Server database.