Microsoft thinks it can win the hearts and minds of future developers by giving them free development tools today. This would be a noble gesture but for one, tiny little fact:
There are 150,000+ free and open-source software projects on Sourceforge (and another 80,000+ on Google Code). The day of placating developers with tools is over. Open source has raised the stakes dramatically. Forever.
Bill Gates, forever stuck in the past, declares:
We want to do everything we can (except open source our software, quips Matt) to equip a new generation of technology leaders with the knowledge and tools they need to harness the magic of software to improve lives, solve problems, and catalyze economic growth. Microsoft DreamSpark provides professional-level tools that we hope will inspire students to explore the power of software and encourage them to forge the next wave of software-driven breakthroughs.
Alas, dear Mr. Gates, too little, too late. You see, developers already have exceptional development tools available under open-source licenses. They also have market-leading ECM, CRM, application server, operating system, etc. software that they can fiddle with and extend so that they can graduate from the kiddie laboratory you want to foist on them.
DreamSpark would have been cool...20 years ago. Today it's an admission, as Glyn Moody writes, in "the plainest possible terms that its business model has failed." Sorry. Maybe you'll catch up next century.
These days, dear Mr. Gates, you must give away the core. No one is interested in mere complements anymore. Those are the tools necessary to drive revenue around the core being open sourced. Look around. Everyone (Google, Yahoo, MySQL, Red Hat, etc.) is doing it.