Microsoft is giving $US1.7 million in cash grants to universities worldwide for projects with Windows CE .Net and Windows XP Embedded.
The money is intended to fund new research projects and curriculum development involving Microsoft's software for embedded use and will go to 77 universities and colleges that proposed a myriad of projects, group product manager in Microsoft's Embedded Devices Group, Karen Carter, said.
"We are really looking to promote awareness of our operating system and ensure that schools are teaching the wide array of embedded technologies available," Carter said.
The proposed projects include robotics and devices that can help disabled people.
More than 130 proposals were submitted by more than 120 schools, Microsoft said.
In the embedded space, Microsoft faces competition from the open-source Linux operating system as well as several proprietary operating systems. With the grants going to computer science and engineering programs, more students will be trained in working with Microsoft's products, that the company hopes will help its business.
"Students will come out of the universities understanding how our products work," Carter said.
This would benefit Microsoft as well as manufacturers working on products that use the Microsoft software, he said.
Windows CE .Net is meant for small and portable devices such as handheld computers and mobile phones. Windows XP Embedded is meant for stationary devices with greater computing requirements, such as automatic teller machines and airport check-in kiosks.
Microsoft is hosting a Windows Embedded Academic Developers Conference for the grant winners later this week. About 120 members of the academic community have been invited to come to Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, for two days of technical immersion.