The SPARK Your Imagination community-focused program, a joint agreement between Microsoft Corp. and select hardware vendors, will bring a complete offering of hardware and software to nonprofessional developers through a simple and affordable model. Program offerings have an estimated retail value of $1300 and will be available immediately worldwide at prices raging from $250 to $350, according to details announced at the Embedded Systems Conference.
Previously code-named the SPARK initiative, when it was first announced last November, the program brings the benefits of embedded development on Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 and Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition to hobbyist developers and the academic community. Under its MSDN Academic Alliance Program, Microsoft now provides software for students and faculty in the embedded technology and design fields. SPARK Your Imagination adds complementary offerings and extends them to the greater nonprofessional developer community to continue its dedication to the industry and future talent pool.
“Devices running embedded operating systems have seen explosive growth in the past few years, and the announcement today demonstrates our commitment to the future of the embedded community,” said Kevin Dallas, general manager of Windows Embedded Business at Microsoft. “Our continued investment supports future innovation and new idea generation that will ultimately contribute to our vision of smart, connected, service-oriented devices.”
A full version of Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 and Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition with select boards from participating hardware vendors will be available to academics and hobbyists at price points optimized for nonprofessional users. The offering is for noncommercial use. Also, Microsoft will begin offering Board Support Package (BSP) certification at no charge, which will apply to both commercial and noncommercial use. Participating vendors include AdvanTech Co. Ltd., ICOP Digital Inc., Keith & Koep GmbH, VIA Technologies Inc., and Special Computing.