Sim said Microsoft is investing in a partnership with academia through the Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance program. The program provides the latest versions of Microsoft developer tools and enterprise products to the more than 3 million students and faculty that are part of the program throughout the world. "My job is about bringing Microsofts assets to academia," Sim said.Also, Sim said Microsoft offers a Visual Studio .Net Academic Edition for academic use. In addition, "we engage in dialogues with the academics on almost a daily basis," Sim said. And once a year Microsoft holds a Faculty Summit "where we feel theres very healthy interchange between academia and Microsoft," he said. Microsoft also sponsors a worldwide programming competition for college students. At TechEd Barcelona in Spain last month, Microsoft sponsored its Imagine Cup programming competition. Also, Sim said, Microsoft works with the top research institutions in the world and issues requests for proposals for new technological initiatives. In addition, the company tries to get involved in curriculum development, he said. "One of the things we have to keep in mind is that .Net is a new technology," Sim said. "And for developers to understand it, we felt a need to go out and explain it. What we really want to do is see how we can improve the overall health of the ecosystem. We want to see better coders."
Part of that involves "making sure were making the right technology to meet the needs of the academic market," he said, noting Microsofts Rotor shared-source project to deliver a version of the Microsoft Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) for researchers, academics and other non-commercial uses. In fact, Rice University is working on creating a C# integrated development environment (IDE) based on work done with Rotor and other technology.