Microsoft has announced an academic version of its development software Visual Studio.Net which includes features for incorporating the software into a tertiary software development course.
Currently being beta tested, the VisualStudio.Net includes Microsoft's Common Language Runtime, enabling developers to write code in more than 20 languages, from Java to Microsoft's own emerging language, C#.
Academics find the multilingual characteristic important because it allows fledgling developers to learn to write code in a variety of languages without having to learn multiple frameworks.
The Academic release of Visual Studio.Net is part of the MSDN (Microsoft Developers Network) Academic Alliance program, which offers price breaks and other perks to universities worldwide that teach and do research based on Microsoft's technology. The academic release of the software is a beefed-up version of Visual Studio.Net Professional, only it includes a number of academic-specific features.
An altered user interface in the academic version allows teachers to create and track assignments for students, review student work and post grades. Students can use Visual Studio.Net Academic to complete an assignment and submit it for review. From within the software, a teacher can auto-compile a student's work to test if an assignment was done correctly, and look at the source code a student creates.