I am primarily a Microsoft software developer. But I was not always a M$FT user/developer so to speak. I used to use Windows 3.1 back in the heyday, followed a little with Windows 95⁄98. But by then, I was a college student at Boston University. The computer labs there had primarily Unix terminals and Solaris boxes. So I naturally had to use and learn these technologies. Everything from using the command shell, pine, star office, gcc compiler, etc. It wasn’t easy to pick up, but a great learning experience nonetheless. I later used Linux (Red Hat/Mandrake) on my home PCs.
Now, to the point of my blog.
I love how Microsoft treats college students so well. Over my undergraduate years (1997-2001), more and more terminals were turning into Windows NT/2000 workstations, donated of course by Microsoft. There were group meetings that they setup on campus to promote their products and give away free software and development tools such Visual Studio 6.0 and Windows 2000 Professional beta.
Present day: Hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of software are still being distributed. Check out the following sites that offer students (high school through graduate level students at colleges/universities) free Microsoft software:
Now, from a business standpoint, this is smart. Microsoft gives these software freely to poor college students and gets them hooked. When these students graduate and move into the working world, they’ll naturally want to continue using all the Microsoft software.
From a developer’s point-of-view, Microsoft gives so much to academics. I was a PHP/MySQL developer before I started developing projects with ASP.net. Why did I switch over?—Because I got their IDE, Visual Studio .Net for free! All I had to do was attend a Microsoft launch event. If I had to personally pay for the software, I probably would never have gotten started using Microsoft technologies. I would have been happy freely using LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQl, PHP).
Now, this probably does sound as though Microsoft is a crack dealer or something. They get you hooked and you never get out! Funny, but somewhat true.