futuresheet writes "Microsoft formally released its robotics software yesterday, giving would-be robot builders a new tool to make them do the things they do. The license for the software is $399, and the 'standard' Pioneer P3DX robot that's made for home use is $40,000. Just the same, if you want to give it a try, it is downloadable for free for non-commercial use, and includes a simulator to try things out on your computer." From the article: "It represents a new effort for the company that has Chairman Bill Gates raving about potential growth in a robotics industry that's already worth an estimated $11 billion a year or more. '[A]s I look at the trends that are now starting to converge, I can envision a future in which robotic devices will become a nearly ubiquitous part of our day-to-day lives,' Gates writes in the January issue of Scientific American. Microsoft is not making robots. Its Robotics Studio is software designed to program the devices to collect data from an array of sensors and perform all manner of functions."