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Microsoft to reclaim developers with free software?

Software maker is trying to secure the next generation of developers by giving them software at no cost, but it may be too late to compete with free open-source releases.

Gavin Clarke of The Register nails it with a review of Microsoft's latest attempt to attract the next generation of Norwegian software developers.

The problem?

Microsoft believes that it has "lost" a generation of developers who might have embraced Windows and .Net, thanks to the Mac and open-source frameworks and operating systems.

In an ongoing attempt to woo the next generation Microsoft's rumbustious chief executive will next week announce the latest extension of a program offering Microsoft software worth thousands of dollars at a price point no student can refuse: free.

And so, as Clarke points out, Microsoft plans to give away mostly unpopular or out-of-date Microsoft software (with the exception of Visual Studio 2008) in an effort to reclaim the "lost" generation.

Microsoft is one of the smartest companies around, but I'm not sure that this ploy will work. Why? Because the so-called lost generation can already get excellent open-source software development tools for free: the latest releases, the hottest titles, the most vibrant online communities. For free.

It's a race to see who can attract the rising generation, and Microsoft may struggle to do this. It has largely won the battle among the older generation of IT workers. The future, however, is wide open.