Trower said a core objective of Microsoft RDS is to provide a common ground that creates opportunities for greater contributions and participation from across the diverse community of robotics developers and hardware and software vendors.
For instance, ABB, a leading supplier of industrial robots and robotics software, is among the first companies to take advantage of this opportunity by releasing a connectivity package called ACM (ABB Connect to Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008). ACM creates a virtual environment for educational purposes, with the goal of teaching robotics students at universities to design and implement virtual robotics. The package also will contain all the services needed to build a complete virtual robot controller, ABB said.
"Generation Y students approach their education in a unique manner, based on intuition and innovation. ABB Connect gives these students tools to experiment with creative robot designs in a virtual world," said Bertil Thorvaldsson, product manager for ABB. "This is the beginning of a very exciting future for robotics. We're eager to see what students create and to be working with Microsoft in developing this new frontier."
Microsoft said the latest release of Microsoft RDS also offers improved licensing options by replacing its noncommercial and commercial licenses with three editions: a Standard Edition for professional developers, an Academic Edition for students and educational researchers, and an Express Edition for hobbyists and casual users. While with previous versions the user was allowed to distribute only 200 copies of the CCR (Concurrency and Coordination Runtime) and DSS (Decentralized Software Services) run-times, each license of the new Standard and Academic editions permits the user to distribute an unlimited number of copies of the CCR and DSS run-times, Trower said.
Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 Standard Edition is available for $499.95 at http://www.microsoft.com/robotics, or from Microsoft's Volume Licensing program starting in February 2009. Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 Express Edition will be available for no charge and downloadable from the same site. More information about the release and distribution of Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 Academic Edition is also available at the same site.