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Education Microsoft Software

Big Company on Campus 677

Daniel Dvorkin writes "MSNBC (oh, the irony) is running a scary article entitled Microsoft's big role on campus, detailing how Microsoft is working its way into academic computer science through a combination of bribery and propaganda. The aricle may be overstating the case, but it does make it sound as though MS products are displacing others at a disturbing rate in computer science departments. Given that academic computing has traditionally been both the source of and the stronghold for innovative software, this is a disturbing long-term trend."
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Big Company on Campus

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  • by Lane.exe ( 672783 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @03:58PM (#6798551) Homepage
    I'm trying to register for classes right now and my stupid university's servers (which run MS) aren't letting anyone log on... and all it took was >30K students trying to register. I'd hate to see what a /.ing would do.

    • by quantum bit ( 225091 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:04PM (#6798647) Journal
      I'd hate to see what a /.ing would do.

      Post the URL.
  • wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by dragoncortez ( 603226 ) * on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @03:59PM (#6798563) Journal
    In 1998, the company began to quietly fly academics to its headquarters for previews of the technology. Damien Watkins, then a lecturer at Monash University in Australia, recalled that some of his peers wore Linux T-shirts to show their skepticism. In the end, though, they were won over in part by the promise of the technology -- and by a $150,000 donation the company made to the university, he said.

    If I'd known professors were that cheap, I'd have picked up a couple a long time ago.

    • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hazem ( 472289 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:09PM (#6798739) Journal
      In many schools, profs are expected to get donations and research grants - I think the normal rate is 3x their salary. Oh, and they're supposed to publish frequently (publish or perish). And, I suppose if they have time after all that, they might get around to teaching.

      A nice $150,000 donation pretty much takes care of a year's grant/donation hunting. I'll bet MS would even though in a new t-shirt for the ride home.
    • Re:wow (Score:5, Interesting)

      by yintercept ( 517362 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:15PM (#6798826) Homepage Journal
      Professors are cheap and the price is dropping.

      Textbook sales are another good example of the professor and business. When the prefessor, or department, can dictate the purchase of thousands of dollars in books, you can be certain that there is a great deal of schmoozing going along with the sale. If you want your $100 a pop textbook to be accepted by a major university, you better be prepared to roll out a red carpet for the decision makers.
      • by Daniel Zappala ( 15756 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:51PM (#6799265)
        You mean to tell me there's something in this for me when I pick textbooks for my CS classes? All along I've been trying to choose the textbooks that I felt covered the material the best. And in many cases I've missed out on any kind of opportunity by forgoing a textbook and taking the time to select relevant research papers. What else am I missing out on?
    • But, Long term (Score:3, Insightful)

      MS will get the 150K + interest back when the University has to upgrade x1000 pc and servers every 2 years.

      You would think University professors would think a bit more about the big picture .....

      Never mind I take that back, having known a few, I can see how this might work......
  • by grendel_x86 ( 659437 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @03:59PM (#6798567) Homepage
    MS was selling their C compiler in our bookstore for REALLY cheap. FUnny thing was that all the CS dept was using Suns, so it was worthless.
    • Re:I remember when.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Trelane ( 16124 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:27PM (#6798992) Journal
      Actually, if your University (like mine, unfortunately) has a Campus Software Agreement, it's actually not cheap. You pay for it semester after semester, whether or not you actually use all of the Microsoft software (to the tune of several million per year ($10 million / 50 thousand applicable people == 200 per year per person (you pay for this in your campus privilege fees). If someone has exact numbers on the cost of a Campus Agreement, please post!). Not only that, but a previous version is required. Therefore, if you buy a new PC, you're unlikely to actually be able to use the new version (because you already have it, as required of the OEM by Microsoft). If you do end up going down to buy a copy from your uni, you most likely don't need a new version; your old one would likely have kept you just fine (how many are still using Windows 98 with Office 97?), so you're actually shelling out quite a bit for software you either don't need or wouldn't buy ordinarily.

      Indeed, you're actually paying several times ($1000-2000?) what you would ordinarily be paying.

      Microsoft, of course, loves this. You (myself included!) feel like you're not getting your money's worth if you don't go down and stock up on software you're already paying for. On top of that, you're spamming friends and relatives with the latest versions of MS Office, Windows Media Player, and requesting software for their latest version. You're becoming a vital cog in their upgrade treadmill and are more effectively advertising Microsoft than their marketing department could(!), and you're paying for the privilege of helping Microsoft!
      • Re:I remember when.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sumho ( 701478 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @05:24PM (#6799619)
        actually i work for a college and we pay 34 dollars per desktop for a bundle of xp/office/visio/and visual studio. this is changing in 2005 though. microsoft is dropping our educational discount. that's why we're heavily researching linux on the desktop. plus we're a novell shop so ximian desktop is going to look really good to us in 2005.
      • Re:I remember when.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Schnapple ( 262314 ) <tomkidd@viatex[ ]com ['as.' in gap]> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @05:30PM (#6799678) Homepage
        I worked for Texas A&M when they went to this system. I don't recall exactly but I'm pretty sure that the Office CD wasn't an upgrade. The OS CD may have been, but that might have been so that the students wouldn't have to blow away their existing OS install. Either way shafts people. If you fail out of the University you don't get to keep the software (or at the very least you wind up a EULA violator), but graduate and you geet to keep the software.

        If memory serves, the cost for each student was something like $50 per semester, or $5 per credit hour or something like that. This is in addition to the $5 per CD, so if you want WinXP it's $5 for the CD, VS.NET was $25 for the 5 CD's. Financially, it works out best for people about to graduate.

        And at A&M the students voted it in. There was a referendum and everything. To put it in perspective, say it was a $5 per credit hour increase - we had just passed a $30 per credit hour fee increase and people raised bloody hell. I was even in charge of writing the code to select all the students "grandfathered" against that fee when they decided only to hand it to incoming freshmen and certian other students with this bizarre algorithm.

        But at a major university, you've got to remember who's paying. Many of the kids are there on their parents' nickel, and they see anything on the bill as something they won't have to see or mess with. It's kinda the same mentality of paying for something with a credit card - anything that's not out of pocket is seen as "free" (no surprise then that credit card companies often target college students).

        No, it's only the students that either have restrictive scholarships or are paying for everything themselves through financial aid or out of pocket that raise issues - and they're voted down by the majority of the students. Ultimately it boils down to college being expensive in any event.

        But on the other side of the coin, to some degree we all know piracy is rampant on college campuses, and students instinct is not to go to free (as in GPL) software. Your parents buy you a Dell but it has XP Home and you need XP Pro to join a domain. No problem, find the guy with the XP Pro Corporate God edition to upgrade your system. Get Office XP Pro and VS.NET while you're at it (even though you're an English major and will never need VS.NET ever). Now Microsoft is offering you the opportunity to not be a dirty pirate for the low price of $5 a CD and some fees you'll never see because the bill goes to your folks.

        So let's say you take 15 hours a semester - two semesters times $5 per credit hour is $150, plus a one-time $5 per CD fee. VS.NET alone is over a thousand dollars (though in all fairness not everyone needs it). By your numbers, you would have to be in college for over ten years to rack up $2000 in these MS fees.

  • Used to be Macs (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    When I was at UT Austin (89 - 93), it was all Macs. The computer lab in the FAC had forty macs to four PC's. I would wager there were more Unix boxen in Taylor, etc. than PC's in the labs.

    Apple has targeted the education market for literally decades (IIe, the LC520, etc. etc.) What makes this news?

    • When I was starting college, we had a one-day orientation to let us get to know the campus, and the professors who would be teaching us. During a question-and-answer period, one of the kids asked the Comp Sci head what kind of computer he should bring with him. The professor spoke for a few minutes about the college's development labs (mostly MS), then about the DogNet lab (BSD), and finally settled on saying that a dual-boot, MS/Linux pc would be the best bet.

      Then he looked at the kid and asked, complet
  • by rc.loco ( 172893 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:01PM (#6798586)

    It works for the U.S. tobacco companies, so why not?

    • by ivanmarsh ( 634711 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:23PM (#6798951)

      It works for the U.S. tobacco companies, so why not?

      At least the tobacco companies products work.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Quite true. When I was in school, we had several different computers: TRS-80s, Ti-994/As, Apple IIs, and maybe a PC somewhere. True, they weren't used to their full potential in that no one that I know of was doing any programming on them, but at least you got to see a variety of hardware running a variety of software. Now, you have Windows, Windows, Windows, and maybe a Mac somewhere in there. Kids are growing up knowing nothing but MS products, and MS likes it that way.

      Where are the open source advo
  • by the darn ( 624240 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:01PM (#6798588) Homepage
    Naming rights for the first two letters of XXNBC now up for bid...
  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:01PM (#6798592) Journal
    Fundings funding. If they want to give my alma mater 1.6 million to use Windows, I think that's just great.

    Computer Science isnt "how to use your computer". The concepts and techniques you learn are beyond any operating system. Good algorithm design and analysis transcends linux vs windows vs mac osx.

    When I did my degree, half the classes used Windows, the other half linux, and now, a few years later, I really cant remember which was which.

    It was irrelevant, I wasnt learning computers, or even how to program in C, I was learning concepts.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) *
      not only that, but with the current ecnonomic situation affecting higher education (especially here in the State of MN) if someone wants to give the institutions money SO BE IT.

      That's less money the students have to pay, that's less they have to pay back later, and that's more excellent programs and hardware they have to work with.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

      by goodviking ( 71533 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:05PM (#6798674) Journal
      half the classes used Windows, the other half linux, and now, a few years later, I really cant remember which was which

      Less binge drinking should clear than problem up
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Usquebaugh ( 230216 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:14PM (#6798806)
      The issue is not so much CS, were most of the students are learning concepts. Although, I've met a few CS majors who seemed to have missed the computer part of the course while also avoiding the science part.

      The issue is that most people are not taught concepts but rather tools. It's here that MS is buying it's future.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phurley ( 65499 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:15PM (#6798830) Homepage
      I don't disagree - but I have some followups:
      1. Many of the people doing open source work started (and continue) because of their exposure to open source, GNU, etc. Which will be limited if the initial exposure is completely proprietary.

      2. None CS students will be exposed only to MS solutions and when they enter the business world (as our wonderful managers) they will request/require solutions based upon what they already know.

      3. Many venues of higher education are not much more than glorified business schools and their graduates are not getting a good foundation in concepts, but rather are becoming trades(wo)men. And they will be pounding with the only hammer they know.

      Microsoft is well aware that controlling education (especially higher eduation) will give the a huge leg up in the future. I'm not sure that if I were in charge of a CS dept. and was offered a large grant even knowing all this I would turn it down, but there is a downside.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

        by mindriot ( 96208 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @06:12PM (#6800027)
        1. Many of the people doing open source work started (and continue) because of their exposure to open source, GNU, etc. Which will be limited if the initial exposure is completely proprietary.

        Also, many of the people doing open source work started (and continue) because of their exposure to Windows.

        ;-)

      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Lyran ( 398696 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @06:53PM (#6800337)
        At University of Maryland University College (Europe), first non-Windows disappeared - Linux was removed from all campus lab machines - claimed it was a "security risk". Next most non-Microsoft software was removed from the lab. The IT director knows M$ and nothing else.

        I teach computer science. No longer can I teach with Borland (or gcc) and Linux. Everything is pretty much Microsoft-only. Everything must be VS 6 (and .not). I have been reprimanded because I point out to my students flaws in M$ Windows. Want to take on-line courses - forget about it - Mozilla is barely supported and others are not.

        I guess University of Maryland is really University of Microsoft.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

      To an extent I agree with you. However, if Microsoft manages to get their software used across the entire ciriculum, that will put a huge dent in the inroads other OSs are making.

      I had played around with Linux a bit in high school, but for the most part held on to Windows pretty closely. CSC 150 and 250 both used Windows and Visual Studio as a programming environment. When Data Structures came around, and programs were supposed to be written for Linux, I found myself dreading giving up my click-to-comil
      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:22PM (#6798934) Journal
        Well, then you're a masochist. I surely dont miss makefiles, gdb, etc.. I like clicking and dragging to build forms, etc. I love being able to step through and over code in debug and setting watchpoints.

        You can still compile from a makefile on the command line with a million and one /switches, if you really want to.

        IMO, Visual Studio's MSFT's best product by far. I'd love to see something equivalent come out for OSS, it'd draw in a ton of developers like me who have a desire to contribute and love to code, but just dont see why they should spend their spare time being annoyed with trivial shit.

        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jared_hanson ( 514797 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:27PM (#6798989) Homepage Journal
          You make a good point, and there are days that I agree with you. However, I often think that perhaps the reason Linux code tends to be more reliable that Windows code is that you weed out all the coders dependent on the graphical IDE.

          I've done countless things in Visual Studio where I had no idea all the compiler switches that were being used. In some cases, this created some problems.

          In Linux however, I am forced to read all about the switches to get things done. When I need to do something, I read the man page to find the switch I need. I also tend to read about at least 5 other switches in the process. I know what's going on when I compile with gcc, but I'm not real sure about Visual Studio.
    • In a perfect world (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:19PM (#6798891) Journal
      your post would be sensible and correct. However, we live in a capatilist world. If Microsoft is allowed to influence budding young minds to use their products, develop for their products, and learn their proprietary languages, then they will succeed at the expense of their competitors (and education in general).

      Dictators do similar things to the minds of the youth.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ashkar ( 319969 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:29PM (#6799001)
      The problem is when their windows only setup locks out other platforms.

      For example, I'm a freshman at a school where a "MS products only" policy is enforced. Students are required to have a laptop. Only windows is supported by the school technical staff. This is not a big deal; sadly, I don't expect more because, even though my school portrays itself as up and coming in the technical education department, most of their graduates couldn't diagnose a bad port on a switch.

      To print on campus, you must use a printing program (for payment purposes) that is windows only. Buy vmware or virtualpc or you can't print on campus. Considering I live an hour away from school, this is more than a little inconvenient.

      Teachers only accept emailed documents in word format. I understand most teachers won't be able to open a .cwk file so this is a point I usually glide over, but at the moment I want them to look as evil as possible. ;)

      The software required for ALL math courses is Mathsoft's Mathcad. This is also windows only. Calc II seems like it might be possible to survive without the software, but the labs in Calc I make it absolutly necessary for that and most lower courses. With all the cross-platform products available, why do they use this one?

      My complaints fall on deaf ears, and I have no doubts (and also no proof) that my school has sold out to Gates and Co. Any school purporting to educate in the technical fields should be totally open to encouraging the learning of alternate platforms.

      PS. They don't teach standard HTML either from what I hear. Fortunately, I'm a CompE major about to transfer so I don't have to continue to suffer, but, damn, everyone should teach standard HTML. http://www.clayton.edu/
    • Ethics are ethics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IthnkImParanoid ( 410494 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:31PM (#6799040)
      Accepting a "donation" in exchange for using Windows is a conflict of interest. The job of the faculty and administration is to choose the best educational tools. You are right that good progamming principles are platform/OS independent, but that does not preclude the possibility that one platform/OS facilitates education better than others. I am not making the case that Windows is an inferior tool here, as it would likely be a long and controversial argument; however, I will say that accepting money in this way prevents the school from deciding which is the best choice.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:40PM (#6799139) Journal
      Computer Science isnt "how to use your computer". The concepts and techniques you learn are beyond any operating system.

      Right. So Mr. Windows-Schooled sits down at his brand new job at Unixwerks, and goes to open up Visual C++, and... err... well... opens up pico and flounders around looking for the button to press to bring up the dialog editor.

      Or more likely, he'll have skipped Unixwerks in the phone book and fired his resume straight off to WindowsRUs.

      Personally, I don't care. If microsoft wants to flood the already saturated job market with even more Windows-Only people, it makes it easier for me to sell my Unix programming skills, at least until the Windows-Only people are so numerous that there are no more Unix jobs, everyone's switched to windows shops to take advantage of the dime-a-dozen nature of the programmers.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @08:44PM (#6801086) Homepage
        Personally, I don't care. If microsoft wants to flood the already saturated job market with even more Windows-Only people, it makes it easier for me to sell my Unix programming skills,

        Shhh dont let out the secrets....

        it is even in the IT world. they let go 13 of the 15 IT staff last month.. 2 windows guys and Me, the ONLY linux guy are left. the 2 windows guys had some linux exposure and experience because of me.

        Linux was the reason we kept our jobs here....

        It's nice to be the wierd geek with that crazy hippie OS 3 years ago to the guy who still has his job because of it today....

        thanks microsoft.
    • A Problem (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Llywelyn ( 531070 )
      Except that programming is also about the tools that you use to create those programs.

      A kid who learned on the Visual C++ IDE and nothing else and who has been thrown into a unix environment is going to freak. Why? Because even if he was only taught how to program ANSI C++ and could pick up a new language in his sleep, he still is not prepared to use the tools required to compile those languages.

      Things like makefiles, gcc, VisualAge, etc. From experience its a hell of a lot easier to go from a command
    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @05:06PM (#6799424)
      Totally correct - when I did my degree Windows was version 3.1, Linux was just an argument with Tanebaum, and the best OS around was Amiga.

      We all programmed in Pascal, and I think we're all the better for it. Not that I use *any* of the above anymore - if you think what you learn at University today is all you'll need you are very much mistaken, and will probably be programming Java as it becomes more and more legacy in the face of future developments.

      Take my advice - go learn and use all the different systems available to you - yes, even Windows - as then, and only then, will you be able to see just how everything works, without being blinded by only one side of the 'argument'.

      Need an example? Ask whether a microkernel is a good or a bad thing, think of applying that knowledge to application design.
  • by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:02PM (#6798599) Journal
    ..to intrude heavily into an academic environment. I understand that it would silly not to allow some influencing, and let companies spread around a little bit of free "hits", but academic officials should take it upon themselves to prevent any given company the ability to guide the education and goals of their students. This isn't a free iMac in a classroom or two, this is the potential future of computer science in the United States being misdirected by a party that is guilty of monopoly practices, and practices the closed source model (obvioulsy not as healthy to development and learning as is Open SOurce).

    It is unethical on so many levels.

    • by DarenN ( 411219 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:10PM (#6798748) Homepage
      this is the potential future of computer science in the United States

      My aren't WE large headed!! This does not just happen across the pond there, it happens in Europe too. In fact, MS has offered academic institution(s) here in Ireland _really_ cheap setups in the past, and there were 2 reasons.

      o To lock them in (obviously)
      o To test out NT in a large network enviornment

      And boy was NT tested (some of the curses thrown at it were impressive. It caused an awful lot of hassle, never mind that the default setup allowed students to format the harddrive)

      Now, the Computer Systems degree I'm doing in the University of Limerick [www.ul.ie], Ireland use a mix of Red Hat and Windows, and I believe that the Computer and Electrical Engineers use the same mix, but aside from that, the rest of the college use Win2k workstations with Active Directory and Exchange Server, which was a direct upgrade from the previous infrastructure... so I guess the lock-in worked
  • ...We're all aware that computers that can run Microsoft Windows are also capable of running Linux, many versions of BSD, and Solaris/x86. So, we end up with several free OSes, and a few commercial OSes (counting some of the commercial BSDs) that will run on the hardware. My favourite computer science professor had a computer at his desk that had a windows license sticker, but he never even booted into Redmond's OS before he wiped it and installed Linux.

    Many large colleges have UNIX clusters of some fo
  • by mogh1701 ( 691552 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:02PM (#6798609)

    I come home from work and my kid comes running up to be dressed like the MSN butterfly and says "Where do you want to go today." (in a robotic like tone)

    Brainwashing I tell ya!!

  • by Hecubas ( 21451 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:02PM (#6798614)
    C'mon slashdot, what is with this Microsoft fetish lately? Get with it and keep up the SCO bashing for goodness sake!

    --
    hecubas
  • I was able to get Windows XP pro, .net 2003 (the week it was released), and 3 microsoft publishing books on .net and C#, all for free through a MS rep at my grad school (CS). Pretty sweet.
  • ObSimp: (Score:4, Funny)

    by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:02PM (#6798618) Homepage
    I, for one, welcome our new redmond overlords...

    Oh wait! No, I don't!
  • Unis are chucking out hundreds (thousands?) of BS and MS students per year that know exactly jack about programming, development and engineering and you are surprised that these same Unis are switching to M$ products?! Must be a slow news day or something...
  • MSNBC has published lots of MSFT-critical articles. It's nothing new. It's actually a good sign showing that they are not as biased as say, MSN Search, as a result of being affifiliated with Microsoft.
  • by deanj ( 519759 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:03PM (#6798632)
    Why are people surprised by this? Microsoft has been doing this for years now, and even as part of a recent settlement in a court case [nwfusion.com]. "No monopoly....ok! Sure! ...and as a settlement, we'll let you have all this free software!"

    The scary thing is, some kids are now being taught things like PowerPoint in middle school....

  • I got to UTDallas (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Our school is very cool in that it uses all Linux and OSS software. I think they save something like 2 billion dollars a year. Pretty awesome
  • by MadFarmAnimalz ( 460972 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:04PM (#6798649) Homepage
    Round here at the big state-run universities (Cairo U, etc.) you can get legal copies of Windows, Office, and Visual Studio for the total of around 25 egyptian pounds, or around 4 or 5 US dollars.

    That is, of course, breathtakingly shocking. But then, it is common knowledge that the IT ministry is in cahoots with MS.

    Offtopic, but is 'campuses' the right plural for campus, or would that be campii, or something?
  • At UW (Score:5, Informative)

    by scotiab ( 701704 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:04PM (#6798656)
    In Canada at my university (University of Waterloo, Canada's MIT for those ignorant), Microsoft generously offered to buy the University 4 new computer labs for SE and CS students. Only for a small price, the curriculem must teach C# and the new .NET framework. Thankfully the university did not sell their soul to the devil.
  • In perspective (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:05PM (#6798667) Journal
    I'm not thrilled about this, but -- realistically, Microsoft has an overwhelming share of desktop operating systems and applications, and a large share of servers, programming tools and databases. Is it that shocking that universities are mixing Visual C++ in with the Scheme and Eiffel and whatever the hell else you old-school CS guys have such fond memories of?

    (Damn, the phone rang. I could have had first post on a red-meat Micro$oft story!)

  • by cavemanf16 ( 303184 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:05PM (#6798671) Homepage Journal
    DeVry University is going to begin teaching the intro programming classes using a UNIX-based (Linux more likely) system, instead of using Microsoft's Visual Studio as it is right now. At least that's the inside scoop I've heard from one of my professor's there recently.

    And yes, I realize most of you /. elitists all think DeVry is a shitty school, but if this rumor is true, it just points to the fact that even a private university desperate for funds at every turn doesn't seem to think that being a Microsoft-centric university is necessarily a Good Thing these days. Perhaps industry is demanding a bit more of graduates than simply knowing how to program in Visual Basic these days???
  • by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:05PM (#6798672) Homepage Journal
    Put a lifelike effigy of a MS rep at each major entrance to campus.

    Effigies made up to look like they've suffered the Death of a Thousand Cuts, only using sharpened slivers of Linux distribution CD-ROMs.

    Also, encouraging grad students working in the IT offices to wear pirate costumes might help, Arrrr!
  • Good Thing (Score:5, Funny)

    by N8F8 ( 4562 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:06PM (#6798692)
    Its a good thing MS already bought the legislature or they'd have somthing to worry about.
  • happened to me. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PrometheuSx11 ( 36115 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:06PM (#6798695) Homepage Journal
    a few years a go while i attened the university of southern california, i was surprised to find out that the UI design class in java i signed up for was now a introduction to MFC programming class.

    the announcement my professor made show'ed she wasnt terribly happy with this. In addition every student in the class recieved a copy of windows NT professional and Visual Studio. This really stank for me, as a linux user, it meant that I had to work in the computer labs on campus.

    In addition to the cut throat competition style bribes to the students, they also gave the computer department thousands and thousands of dollars that year. of course, one third of the sun machines were then replaced with dells...

    the article is not over-reacting. How can we stop this? I think universities are lured by money, but are even more scared of losing cred. We as a developer community should loudly and publicly question the academic virtue of schools who whore themselves and their students out like this.
  • by agent oranje ( 169160 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:08PM (#6798729) Journal
    The "William H. Gates" building at MIT, part of their new computer science complex, was paid for by a certain individual whose name appears on the building. Additionally, Microsoft funds a great amount of "research" around campus, giving undergrads the opportunity to work for Microsoft at $7.50/hour.

    Don't feel like paying an employee? Pay a school and get students to do it instead!

    Needless to say, I'm bitter about "Microsoft presents 'College Education.'"
    • Um, not exactly. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jdreed1024 ( 443938 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:22PM (#6798935)
      The "William H. Gates" building at MIT, part of their new computer science complex, was paid for by a certain individual whose name appears on the building.

      Nope. He paid for a part of the building. The building in question is the Stata Center [mit.edu], named for Ray and Maria Stata. Ray Stata is an MIT alum who founded Analog Devices, and he's the one shelling out much of the dough. Gates only paid for one tower of the building (cheapskate), so that's all he gets. No one calls it the Gates building - it's called the Stata Center. Or, alternatively "that pile of iron on Vassar street", since it's designed by "renowned" "architect" Fran Gehry, which means it looks like it was a very nice building that got hit by an earthquake...

      • My point remains the same - one of the picasso-esque towers of the Stata Center is dubbed "The William H. Gates" building, and there's the "Gates Entry." Not like the name means anything, and it'll be stripped as soon as the building is opened to students. But somewhere in there, there'll be a plaque thanking good ole Billy for his delightful contribution to the institute.

        I'm all for new buildings, and I couldn't care less who actually funds them. However, Microsoft has and will continue to influence t
  • by edremy ( 36408 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:08PM (#6798731) Journal
    In my first "real" job at USC back in the ~1996 era, we had a department system that ran on OS/2. The sysadmin was a big OS/2 fan, and all the local machines ran it.

    So I walk down to the bookstore. I can get a Blue Box OS/2 3.0 CD for $199. The C compiler was some outrageous expense- ~$500 if I remember. Everything else was a fortune: the sysadmin ran a beautiful editor (forget the name) that was ~$300/copy.

    Sitting next to this was a copy of VisualC++. $99 In the box as extras were full copies of J++ and NT4.0. It also ran some nice chemistry visualization stuff that OS/2 wouldn't. For that price, why not give it a try? So I started running NT4. (Linux was out: too new and didn't run a fraction of the software I needed.)

    I can't have been the only one. Apple learned this lesson ages ago: stuff the schools and people will use your system for years to come.

  • by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:09PM (#6798741) Homepage Journal

    at a question-and-answer session between the academics and Gates, one professor asked the Microsoft founder about his views about the study of information technology, a part of computer science that emphasizes on how documents, spreadsheets and other data should be handled. What kinds of technologies should students majoring in this subject be taught?
    Gates replied quickly and with a smile: "Microsoft Office."

    Yes, MSFT will try to benefit itself by attaching strings to money.

    It is incumbent upon universities that call themselves places of learning, open-minded, bastions of science, to refuse money that comes attached with any strings.

    If MS funds general research into CS, great.

    If the money is contingent upon the university replacing standard infrastructure with MS proprietary infrastructure, the decision to change infrastructure should be made completely independent of the money.

    Otherwise, it looks as if the univesity can be bought by the highest bidder.

  • by ducomputergeek ( 595742 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:12PM (#6798776)
    I went to a small liberal arts school and considered majoring in CIS or CS, however all the school had on campus were NT machines, except for the AS/400 that handled grades and payroll. About three years ago when I was a Junior the math/cs department got their first and to this date only Linux box to play with. Now some of the geekier students [sarcasm]which of course does not include me ;)[/sarcasm] were playing around with linux by their jr/sr years, however by that time I was on to the BSD family of products.

    Also, I noticed they switched from borland to visual C++ to teach programming courses during my stay at the college. Instead I went on to get a double major in German and International business and taught myself PERL, PHP, MySQL, Linux, FreeBSD, DNS/BIND. It was scary that I knew more about databases than the CIS majors in the database programming class. I would ask simple questions about joins and other things and get a blank stare in return. The instructor was teaching them how to use Access for 90% of their work and had about one chapter over MSSQL. Most didn't even know what SQL even was let alone why it may just be important to know in the business world. I mean every other database package, except for Access, can use "SELECT * FROM table_name". Is SQL that hard to learn if one understands the theory of programming? No, not really, but I had already learned enough to be dangous. Did I know all the absolute nitty, gritty details of what queries would run the fastest and all that, no, but neither did the CIS students.

    With my International Business degree and German I ended up working for a great little start-up firm that now is making about $500k in revenue and growing and hold the title of VP/IT Director and trying to get Linux on more than just our webservers and suceeding and my pay is proably more than what most are making as jr. level coders.

    One thing I did notice when I spent a semester in Germany was that the German fochhochschule had two computer labs, one with XP, the other SuSE Linux. People were becoming familar with both MS Office and Star/Open Office.

  • by johnjay ( 230559 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:16PM (#6798836)
    A friend of mine works for a major, highly-respected publisher of computer texts. She mentioned a while back that Microsoft is giving them so much money to write and publish their .NET line of books that the publisher has no financial risk when adding .NET books to it's list of titles. These new titles are both general consumption .NET books and CS texts for universities. They can be produced at a higher quality and sold at a lower price than books on non-MS subjects. Just another part of the general strategy to choke off Linux and Java's air supply by having CS graduates coming out of schools trained in Windows/.NET instead of Linux/Java.
  • by cybermage ( 112274 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:17PM (#6798848) Homepage Journal
    Many colleges, especially community colleges, take significant funding from government to operate. They, in turn, establish programs and curriculum to meet what they perceive (or are told are) the needs of the community.

    For example, our local community college requires that every student take a course entitled "Intro to Information Management Systems." This course, with such a lofty title, teaches students the following:

    • Computer Hardware - difference between hard drive and floppy drive, etc.
    • MS Windows
    • MS Word
    • MS Excel
    • MS Power Point
    • Internet


    I asked the professor why they require everyone to take this stuff. The reason he gave is that they were asked to do so by the local business community (Chamber of Commerce and the like.)

    You can blame Microsoft for infesting CS departments, but schools like to believe they provide a service to the community, and the community asks for Microsoft. Don't like it, send a letter to your local schools from your business asking them to use the tools your business uses in teaching their students.
  • by joncarwash ( 600744 ) <jonathanwhodgesNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:17PM (#6798854) Homepage

    Microsoft [microsoft.com] has been buying off students as well as the universities and departments for a while now. Check out the MSDNAA [msdnaa.net] where Microsoft provides free development tools to certain educational institutions. At my university any student who takes at least one CS course is eligible. They may download ANY Microsoft operating system as well as any number of Microsoft development tools.

    Also, within the past year Microsoft began selling [e-academy.com] their current desktop operating system and office suites to all students at significantly reduced prices - at $70 and below. Both of these methods of obtaining software will greatly increase the proliferation of Microsoft in academia.

    All of this is discounting the huge amount of "pirated" software, particularly new versions of Microsoft operating systems and office suites, that are installed on students computers in college. A few students who know the tricks of the trade ("pirating") distribute copies to a huge amount of people on campus, especially since students hardly want to pay for music, let alone software.

  • MIT? (Score:3, Funny)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr@m[ ]com ['ac.' in gap]> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:18PM (#6798863) Journal
    Wow, I guess daily contact with RMS is enough to drive people to some truly extreme measures...

    -jcr
  • Shame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dachshund ( 300733 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:18PM (#6798866)
    It's a shame. As much as people like to point out that CS is about "concepts, not specific implementations", it is easier to learn those concepts using certain implementations. More of the inner workings are accessable in *nixes than they are in Windows, and the development tools are often a lot more flexible (once you learn them.) On top of that, it just feels cooler to realize you've got the proverbial hood open and are touching the actual guts of the OS, rather than (by necessity) playing around with simulations in Windows.

    For instance, I never would have understood Operating Systems as well if we hadn't been using *nix systems; it made the difference between actually writing real code for class assignments and "pretending" to write code.

    The next year after I finished my basic classes, the department began a transition from Linux/BSD/GCC to Windows/Java. Tutoring those kids, I noticed that they were having a hard time, and displayed a lot less interest. There's just something compelling about doing "real stuff" at a low-level, as opposed to working in a much higher-level environment.

  • Be consistent (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tmark ( 230091 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:19PM (#6798888)
    What's the big deal. If people learn how to use Word, or Excel, or VisualBlahBlah, they've still learned how to use computer software, or they've learned how to program in at least one environment, and this learning should transfer to some other environment. At least, that's what OSS advocates are always saying when asked about students are being done a disservice by training them on, say, OpenOffice instead of Word, even when Word is dominant in the workplace. Does teaching students Word mean it would be harder for them to use an alternative later ? If so, one could well argue we should ONLY EVER teach students Word because presumably teaching them something else would make it harder for them to use the standard Word.

    Taken to an extreme, one could argue about whether or not students ought to be taught on OS X, FreeBSD, Solaris, or Debian/RedHat/Mandrake - after all, they're all different to some extent. The question is, how much difference makes a material difference to the student ?

    When someone makes a convincing argument that teaching kids on Windows software hurts them, that's when I'll kiss away the subsidies and grants that MS is giving away by the bushel.
  • Sounds about right (Score:3, Informative)

    by gazuga ( 128955 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:23PM (#6798948) Homepage
    UT Austin [utexas.edu] does this. I will admit, it's nice getting software for really cheap. So far, our CS curriculum hasn't been influenced by the partnership -- there are no MS specific courses offered by the CS department, and I've yet to have a class that mandated that I use an MS product. (Most assignment must actually compile/run under Linux) However, I don't know about the Business school though -- I would suspect they play along and don't ask questions.

    Interestingly enough, I was just reading some of Dijkstra's [utexas.edu] writings, where he comments on this very issue [utexas.edu] at UT.
  • by Quixadhal ( 45024 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:28PM (#6798995) Homepage Journal
    I have to side against all the anti-M$ people on this one. You're missing the point, and if you're out of college, you missed the point. There are two things you should be learning in college (besides how to drink), and those are how to think, and how to work.

    As much as they might like to, Microsoft can't control how we think about abstract problems. If you learn about linked lists using Visual C++, vi and gcc, or pascal and EDT, you are STILL learning about linked lists.

    However, it DOES matter what you get exposed to while you're learning the concepts. At my university, programming classes were taught on a VAX/VMS cluster, and on Sun workstations. Learning to code on the Suns gave me skills I use today in my job, where I program under linux. Using the VMS cluster gave me nightmares that will take decades to fade.

    I worked for a little while doing Visual BASIC programming, and it wasn't that bad. I tried to learn Visual C++ while I was there, and it stumped me. I know C++. I don't know how to effectively use the interface for that beast, nor all the API calls that I'd use if I coded with it every day. Had I been able to do some of that at university, I'd have a better chance in the Real World (TM).

    What most slashdotters forget in their rabid anti-Microsoft raving, is the ancient quote "Know thine enemy". I'd much rather know how to use all the "evil" M$ products, so I can clearly make cases for and against them when the opportunity arises, than to just chant "They're EVIL!" and hope they go away.

    Besides, creativity will find a way. If you don't think there are pretty clever windows programmers out there, you haven't looked very hard. And linux would NEVER have become this popular without the M$-Empire to make it stand out.
    • As much as they might like to, Microsoft can't control how we think about abstract problems. If you learn about linked lists using Visual C++, vi and gcc, or pascal and EDT, you are STILL learning about linked lists.

      I agree with you about the main point of what's learned in computer science. In my comp-sci degree, I also consider the abstract concepts that I learned as much more important than the day-to-day software that we were using to learn it. I disagree with your post as a whole, however, since

  • where i come from... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stames ( 692349 ) <jtjNO@SPAMucla.edu> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:28PM (#6798999)
    In the CS department at UCLA, Microsoft has been around for a long time. On the first day of "Intro to Programming," every student got a brand-spankin-new, still shrink-wrapped box of MS Visual Studio 6.0.

    Frankly this is brilliant marketing on Microsoft's part. When these students learn to program, they are now familiar and comfortable within VS. So what are they going to use later in life?

    On the other hand, Microsoft is anything but pervasive in the CS labs. Probably about 50% of the machines have Windows only (but they all have Exceed on them also). About another 30% are Solaris, and the rest are Linux. Also, Microsoft products are free for engineering students, from Windows XP to BizTalk server. Even so, professors don't encourage Windows use--in fact most projects once you're out of the intro level are required to be done on UNIX or Linux.

    I don't see this as as big a problem as it's being made out to be here. Windows will be shoved down everyone's throats no matter where they are. Smart people will still investigate all their options and made an educated decision.

    --j
  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:31PM (#6799030)
    People who consider technical issues over making a quick buck do not rise to levels of significant decision making authority, neither in business nor in academia.

  • by cookie_cutter ( 533841 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:31PM (#6799037)
    Each year, Microsoft gives away about $100 million of that to universities

    How much of that $100 million is in the form of MS software, which is free for Microsoft to give away?

  • like a drug dealer (Score:4, Interesting)

    by b17bmbr ( 608864 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:34PM (#6799059)
    i am a public school teacher and am finishing up a masters' in technology. you have no idea how microsoft makes it presence felt. they throw freebies to our district IT people. in college, our professors require work in either .doc or .ppt, and we get office for like $20.
  • by KillerHamster ( 645942 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @04:38PM (#6799103) Homepage
    I just arrived back to the BGSU [bgsu.edu] campus a few days ago, and when I went into the lab in the basement of the computer science building, I noticed that all the SGI X-terminals and Macintoshes had been replaced by brand new Dells. That was the only lab I used, since I'd rather do my programming assignments on Solaris/CDE than in Visual C++ or on the UNIX system over telnet. I complained to a lot of people, but no one so far has been able to tell me why they did this or what happened to the SGI's. They got new Dells for at least one other lab too, which were NOT needed, while raising everyone's tuition again. I guess I'll never know, but I really think Microsoft had something to do with it. Maybe that's why we can buy Windows and Office (Professional versions) for only ten dollars at the bookstore. I guess I'll be using KDevelop now.
  • by 200_success ( 623160 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @05:30PM (#6799672)

    At UC Berkeley (home of Unix!), around May 1999, I was a teaching assistant for CS 61B (Introduction to Data Structures) [berkeley.edu]. The course was taught in Java (and before that, C). The UC Berkeley CS labs for introductory undergrad courses are all Unix (Solaris x86, HP-UX, DEC OSF/1).

    The lecturer received a letter from a Microsoft rep with a proposition to switch to Microsoft technologies, offering all of the software that we could possibly want. It was, of course, immediately tossed into the recycling bin with some sort of remark containing the word "slimey."

  • Scary Statistics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brandido ( 612020 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @05:42PM (#6799783) Homepage Journal
    I think the scariest statistic from the article is:
    Microsoft's total research and development budget -- $4.7 billion in 2003, $4.3 billion in 2002 and $4.4 billion in 2001 -- is estimated to be more than all the rest of the software industry spends together. Each year, Microsoft gives away about $100 million of that to universities.


    In comparison, according to the National Science Foundation, computer science department expenditures at all universities and colleges from all sources for 2001 was less than $1 billion.
    Basically, 10 percent of all computer science department expenditures at all universities and colleges from all sources for 2001 was funded by Microsoft. This is corporate sponsorship, and, presumably, influence on a major scale that is shocking. I don't see how this could be over-stated enough.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @05:49PM (#6799862) Homepage
    Once, academia was a big source for software, because government funding was available for its development. BSD UNIX was a DoD funded project. So was Mach. So was Kerberos. Mosaic was government-funded. But all of those are at least a decade old.

    But now, not much comes out of US academia in terms of usable software. The funding isn't there, it isn't perceived as research, and academic computer science departments represent a tiny fraction of computing today.

    So, schools that train what are basically Microsoft Certified Software Engineers are probably inevitable.

  • Very Disappointing (Score:4, Informative)

    by kmsigel ( 306018 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @06:43PM (#6800271)
    I was an MIT CS student from 1988-1993 (BS and MS). Part of what made MIT great was that Microsoft's crap wasn't used. MIT has always had a strong "home grown" culture. The software we used was largely developed at MIT, much of it written (at least partly) by other students. You saw, by example, that you could create the tools you need and you don't need to rely on some company's bug filled code to get the job done.

    It is sad to think that MIT CS has become (or could become) a showcase for Microsoft tools.
  • by Mybrid ( 410232 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @07:57PM (#6800754)

    Over the years UNIX has benefited greatly from the fact that Universities like Berkeley, MIT and Stanford published research because BSD was wide open. In 1996, when I was a grad student at Berkeley in CS, Microsoft approached the Profs at Berkeley with the source code for NT. The idea was that Berkeley would do research on NT. Amazingly enough the proposal was considered. Rumor was, and I don't know this for a fact, that the only reason the deal fell through is that while Microsoft was willing to release 100% of the source, they weren't willing to relenquish copyright. Derived worked would be owned by Microsoft, even when published. Berkeley said no.

    It is interesting then that Microsoft wants research done on .NET.

    "The company concluded that to make .Net a success, it had to get academics involved. Not only would their imprimatur lend credibility to the technology, Microsoft would benefit from their technical expertise."
    This is just euphumism for buying cheap research. While $500 million dollars may seem a lot, its nothing compared to the 4 billion of internal expenditure. What are they getting for that 4 billion? My bet would be that if University profs and students start innovating on .NET then that $500 million will pay out much more rewards then the 4 billion of internal dollars. Microsoft is just wanting cheap yet better research with tax payer matching funds.
  • by LionMage ( 318500 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @08:54PM (#6801151) Homepage
    As an MIT graduate (Class of 1992), I'm appalled by this turn of events. But what really bugs me is that Hal Abelson is involved with this ludicrous arrangement between MIT and Microsoft, in an administrative capacity. (This is according to the article.) Hal is co-author of the SICP text book (Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs), and was one of my professors when I was there. How the hell did they buy him off?

    What will this mean for future MIT students? Will SCHEME be replaced by C# as the language of choice for entry level CS classes? The article bemoans that many universities are having their CS departments reduced to little better than vocational schools, where knowledge of proprietary software is prized over theory and general concepts that can be applied anywhere. I think this is a very real threat to future innovation.

    Microsoft might win more mind-share in the short run, but they'll be screwing the world out of the next generation of advancements in the long run. I, for one, will have grave doubts about sending my offspring to MIT.

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. -- Thomas Edison

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