Advertisement misleading; some get free software

Meranda Watling

A new poster has popped up on bulletin boards across campus. Its message is clear. It reads: “Get Microsoft software at no cost. That’s hot!”

Its true meaning, however, is not so clear.

Ron Imbrogno, manager of information technology, who administers the Microsoft agreement for students and faculty but is not involved with the program advertised in the posters, said the posters were “really misleading.”

“MSDN Academic Alliance is a subscription service,” Imbrogno said. “The (department) pays a subscription fee, and the student can download software for free while they are taking a class using it.”

Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance lets colleges and universities offer free development software to students for education or research purposes, said Radu Brumariu, senior LAN administrator for computer and mathematical sciences.

So, in short, yes you can get Microsoft software at no cost to you — if, and only if, you are taking a course in one of the programs enrolled in the MSDN Academic Alliance program and that course is using the software. At Kent State, only three programs are enrolled: computer science, management and information systems and applied linguistics.

Steven Schindler, who is the LAN administrator and coordinator of computer services for the College of Business, was surprised to hear about the poster. Although he is the contact person listed for management and information systems on the MSDN Web site, he had no idea about the posters.

“I’m not sure who’s putting up the posters and why,” Schindler said. “I suppose they should have warned us.”

Brumariu, who is the MSDN Academic Alliance contact for computer science, said he too was unaware of the poster.

“I don’t know who put the posters there,” he said. “It’s an internal product. We do not advertise to the outside. It is not available to students outside our program.”

Brumariu said computer science has been enrolled in the program for more than six months. Schindler said his department, management and information systems, has been enrolled in the program for close to two years.

“The reason we enrolled in this academic alliance was there was a change in the university agreement with Microsoft,” he said. “It changed the way students could get (Microsoft software). It allowed us to provide that software pretty much free of charge.”

His department pays a subscription fee, Schindler said. The Web site says the annual membership fee is $799 per department and the annual membership renewal fee is $399.

“It was a good deal for the students,” who have to spend a lot more to buy the software they needed for class, he said.

Management and information services primarily uses Visual Studio, but there are several programs available through the alliance, including software development kits.

Microsoft representatives would not talk to the Stater about the MSDN program.

“Microsoft isn’t going to give software away,” Schindler said. “But if we’re teaching a course on how to use their software, yeah, they’re going to help us out.”

Contact technology reporter Meranda Watling at [email protected].