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bill gates announces on channel8 a program called '' which is enabling students of higher education to obtain microsoft developer and designer tools for no charge!

over at the channel8 downloads page you'll see what is available: visual studio professional, expression studio, windows server 2003 standard, and xna game studio.  wow.  for now this is available in United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Germany, France, Finland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Belgium.  the program looks to bring more countries on in the future so check back.

there is a student verification process that you have to go through and some of the frequently asked questions are available on the DreamSpark FAQ

what a great way to enable our future technologists to develop great software using great tools!

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i've been trying to learn more and more about and the current functionality in the february ctp, so i decided to jump on the create-a-video-player-skin bandwagon and mock something up.

i thought it would be quite the incredible thing (read: couldn't think of a better idea) to show a player...so whoala:

sshot-23

and when you click 'start player' (yes i know it would be cool to show the player as a playlist and use the normal zune buttons, but c'mon, v.0.0.3 here...work with me people) it rotates to show you the video (if you don't own a zune, the player shows videos landscape rather than portrait).

sshot-24

anyhow, i'm hoping to evolve this a bit more when i have some more free time -- there is a small bug in the stream downloading calculations that i'm hunting right now.  in case you haven't seen the default video playing, it is the red vs. blue of here's the link to my zune miniplayer.