Microsoft extends outreach to academia

The software maker hopes to raise its profile on college campuses with research grants totaling $3.5 million and easier access to its programming tools.

Microsoft hopes to raise its profile on college campuses with research grants totaling $3.5 million and easier access to its programming tools.

Microsoft on Thursday announced two dozen projects that will receive the grants. The computer science projects include research in mobile and wireless, distributed computing, learning technology, and security--or what Microsoft calls trustworthy computing.

Among the grant recipients is a Georgia Institute of Technology professor who is exploring how people can better utilize mobile computing devices in "nonmobile" scenarios such as the corporate office.

Microsoft has also developed an academic edition of its flagship programming tool called Visual Studio.Net. The version will include an application called Assignment Manager, a workflow tool that helps professors track student assignments.

The source code for the Assignment Manager application will be available to academics. Last year Microsoft extended its program for sharing the source code of key pieces of its .Net initiative, which is a set of tools for building applications that adhere to XML-based Web services standards. The move was seen as a reaction to the popularity of open-source tools--which let people view the inner workings of the software--and the Java programming language.

Last year Microsoft also launched a version of its commercial developer program tailored to universities that costs $799 for a university department. Individuals can buy the academic edition of Visual Studio.Net for $99. The company said that more than 3 million students and faculty have participated in the Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance program since it launched last year.

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