Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced it will give students free access to its most sophisticated tools for writing software and making media-rich Web sites, the Associated Press reports. Students will soon be able to download Visual Studio Professional Edition, a software development environment; Expression Studio, which includes graphic design and Web site and hybrid Web-desktop programming tools; and XNA Game Studio 2.0, a video game development program. In addition, Microsoft will offer SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition and Windows Server Standard Edition at no cost. According to Microsoft, the free offering called DreamSpark will put the company’s software and Web development tools in the hands of 1 billion students, a move that the AP says “intensifies its competition with Adobe Systems Inc. and could challenge open source software's popularity.” Specifically, the AP reports that DreamSpark strengthens an attack that Microsoft launched against Adobe Systems Inc. last year with the release of Expression Studio and the photo design program, Silverlight. According to Gates, the giveaway is not intended to turn students against open source software entirely; instead, he says he hopes to make Microsoft products more accessible tools. The AP reports, meanwhile, that Microsoft also likely hopes the giveaway keeps consumers hooked on Windows machines. DreamSpark is now available to more than 35 million college students in the U.S., Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K., and will open to high school students worldwide beginning fall 2008 and college students in other countries in the next year (Mintz, AP/Google, 2/19/08).