Imagine having Microsoft software available to legally download from the Internet for free, a benefit Washington State University students experienced when they returned to college today (Aug. 23).

WSU and Microsoft have enhanced their academic partnership this fall through WSU’s unique position with the Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance program, bringing tremendous potential benefits to every WSU student, faculty and staff member.

Today, WSU became the first university west of the Mississippi where MSDNAA is available free to all of its students in every field of study and on each campus.

And, while the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Dartmouth College, Howard University and the State University of New York, Stony Brook, join WSU among the elite group of higher education institutions to have agreements allowing them to distribute MSDNAA software campus-wide, WSU is the first North American university to utilize a Web-based, direct-download delivery mechanism for the vast catalog of products available through MSDNAA.

“WSU is extremely pleased to broaden its academic partnership with the world’s largest software developer through the MSDNAA project,” said WSU President V. Lane Rawlins. “This broad suite of products significantly expands the scope and quality of educational and instructional opportunities at WSU. We are especially pleased that one of our own alumni Ryan Lockwood made this possible.”

Chief information officer and vice president of WSU Information Systems Mary Doyle said, “The developer software available through the MSDNAA partnership moves the university ahead tremendously in its goal to provide the best undergraduate experience in a research university.”

Among the MSDNAA products are dozens of software titles that allow users to develop software and applications for a wide range of uses. For example, in the Microsoft Office System of products, the latest versions of Access, InfoPath and OneNote are available, as are Project Professional and Visio Professional. Other products are Virtual PC, Windows XP Professional and Visual Studio .NET Professional. Some of those titles can be used to create powerful databases to organize, access and share information; to create diagramming and drawing tools for technical and business applications; and to design, debug and deploy secure applications for Windows and the Web.

Software titles in the Microsoft Office Suite used by general users (not developers), such as Word, Access, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, are not available through the MSDNAA program.

WSU alumnus Lockwood (’92, BA Communication/Public Relations), academic programs marketing manager for MSDNAA in the United States, helped facilitate the new partnership.

“The MSDN Academic Alliance program enables students to take advantage of the power of the most modern Microsoft software products,” Lockwood said. “The partnership between WSU and Microsoft is an exciting opportunity for students, faculty and staff to learn and teach with the same professional tools used in industry.”

Lockwood had been introduced to the software needs of WSU students by WSU Foundation members and members of the fundraising team from the WSU College of Business and Economics.  He also heard a presentation in Seattle about WSU’s commitment to innovative use of technology by CBE dean Len Jessup and management information systems faculty member Joe Valacich, who holds the Marian E. Smith Presidential Endowed Chair and the George and Carolyn Hubman Distinguished Professor of Management Information Systems.

Lockwood realized the opportunity to make Microsoft software available to all WSU students through the MSDNAA program. Doyle, Jessup and their technology staff members then worked with Lockwood to make the plan a reality.

“This provides a tremendous opportunity for all WSU students to use the latest versions of the leading software in their classes,” Jessup said. “By having this software readily accessible to them today as a part of their learning, we are better preparing these leaders of tomorrow to harness the power of advanced information technologies.”

Membership in the alliance typically entails a licensing fee per department.

The WSU-MSDNAA project kicked off in summer 2004, when hundreds of persons downloaded thousands of titles as participants in a pilot program to test the direct download. They were primarily from the CBE and the College of Engineering and Architecture, whose students often work on software development projects in their classes.

The pilot download was available through the WSU portal, which linked to a distribution system and the secure process for software downloads for MSDNAA. WSU students system-wide, and any faculty and staff involved in using the software for instructional purposes, accessed the downloads through the WSU portal “myWSU.” In the Web-based site (www.my.wsu.edu), persons could either go to the IT site for more information or go directly to the distribution system for a secure Internet download or a network install using a campus server.

“The ‘soft rollout’ of the MSDNAA project has been a great success this summer,” Doyle said.

Using the same delivery process via the portal, she expects the full roll-out to go well as fall classes get underway. “The MSDNAA partnership greatly supports our university technology vision of a ‘seamless, integrated, intuitive information environment,” Doyle said.