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Should Microsoft Give Kids Programmable Versions of Office?

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children? dept.

Microsoft 226

theodp (442580) writes "Over at Microsoft on the Issues, Microsoft continues to lament the computer programming skills gap of American kids, while simultaneously lobbying for more H-1B visas to fill that gap. Saying that states must do more to 'help students gain critical 21st century skills,' Microsoft credits itself and partner Code.org for getting 30,606,732 students to experience coding through the Hour of Code, claiming that K-12 kids have 'written 1,332,784,839 lines of code' (i.e., dragged-and-dropped puzzle pieces), So, if it's concerned about helping students gain programming skills, shouldn't Microsoft be donating fully-functional desktop versions of MS-Office to schools, which would allow kids to use Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)? While Microsoft's pledge to give 12 million copies of its Office software to schools was heralded by the White House and the press, a review of the 'fine print' at Microsoft suggests it's actually the online VBA-free version of Office 365 Education that the kids will be getting, unless their schools qualify for the Student Advantage program by purchasing Office for the faculty and staff. Since Microsoft supported President Obama's call for kids to 'Don't Just Play on Your Phone, Program It', shouldn't it give kids the chance to program MS-Office, too?"

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Python, etc? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683333)

... and that makes more sense than something like Python?

Re:Python, etc? (2)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 5 months ago | (#46683443)

Perl. Control flow based on indentation is a novel idea, but doesn't really make sense to most users. Especially until the tab vs spaces problem is solved.

IDLE defaults to Guido's standard: 4 spaces (2)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46683673)

Tabs vs. spaces is already solved. In IDLE, the smart Python editor that comes bundled with Python for Windows, pressing the Tab key inserts four spaces.

Re:IDLE defaults to Guido's standard: 4 spaces (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46684005)

Does it remove 4 spaces when i hit backspace, or just 1? Problem not solved.

Re:Python, etc? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683719)

That's easy:
1) Add a pre-commit hook that scans all text-files and replaces each found tab with a random prime number 100 number of spaces. Note that if more than 1 tab is committed, they should all get a different number of spaces.
2) Ridicule co-worker who did not set-up his text editor to convert tabs to spaces
3) ???
4) Profit

Re:Python, etc? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46684059)

Perl? Why not go all the way with Brainfuck? I mean, if the objective is to fuck with the kids' ability to think straight either would do it, but at least Brainfuck wouldn't feel as 'patchworky' as Perl.

VBA is kind of like Python (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683901)

VBA is kind of like Python, albeit with a raging tequila hangover.

Give 'em your Kool-Aid (3, Insightful)

bradgoodman (964302) | about 5 months ago | (#46683335)

Time was - companies like this would give this sort of stuff away to get [younger] people hooked on these technologies. Would Microsoft want to get kids hooked into nice wholesome activities like MS-SQL, C#, .net or VB - or let them pick up stuff like LAMP an Python from their friends on the street.

Giving the stuff away is a way to groom the next up-and-coming generation into drinking your Kool-Aid. If they don't do this - they have only themselves to blame when the next generation grows up to be FOSS zellots...

Re:Give 'em your Kool-Aid (4, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | about 5 months ago | (#46683489)

... Would Microsoft want to get kids hooked into nice wholesome activities like MS-SQL, C#, .net or VB -

  If they don't do this - they have only themselves to blame when the next generation grows up to be FOSS zellots...

Do you mean like all those free versions of Visual Studio and MS-SQL that they have been giving away for years and years?

Re:Give 'em your Kool-Aid (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 5 months ago | (#46683555)

Would Microsoft want to get kids hooked into nice wholesome activities like MS-SQL, C#, .net or VB

They already give away all that. Plus a restriction-free copy of Visual Studio, to boot [visualstudio.com] . They have been for decades. Your FUD is decades out-of-date and I hate you.

Requires Windows 8 (1, Troll)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46683857)

Plus a restriction-free copy of Visual Studio, to boot

Restriction-free including a lack of restrictions against running it on a non-Windows operating system or even an older Genuine Windows operating system? For one thing, nothing on the page you linked even runs on Windows Vista, which is still in extended support. For another, the version targeting Windows Phone runs only on Windows 8.

Your FUD is decades out-of-date

I think the point is that Visual Studio encourages programmers to code to APIs available only on Windows. Pretty much every time I've tried to load a .NET application in Mono, the application has stopped with an error that a particular system library is unavailable.

Re:Requires Windows 8 (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | about 5 months ago | (#46684415)

For one thing, nothing on the page you linked even runs on Windows Vista, which is still in extended support.

You have to scroll down to find Visual Studio 2010, but it's there. Granted, the latest version should still run on something in extended support...

I think that's a problem with any system. For example, if you write something for Mac OS's Carbon, it still takes a bit of effort to port that to anything else (unless you have some standard middleware library.)

Re:Give 'em your Kool-Aid (2)

hawkbat05 (1952326) | about 5 months ago | (#46683967)

There is also Kodu Game Lab (http://www.kodugamelab.com/). Which is far more interesting for younger kids and also free from Microsoft.

Re:Give 'em your Kool-Aid (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about 5 months ago | (#46683647)

Time was - if I wanted my computer to do anything, I could program it or go to a bunch computer shows and hope somebody already had what I wanted. {on a stack of floppy disks}

Today- there is an app for that, it's free and you can download it in under a minute. {on to your 32Gb sd card in your phone while you are just about anywhere}

Re:Give 'em your Kool-Aid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46684363)

The "There's an App for That" is the really discouraging factor, and Web apps. Why would I want to learn to code when it's built and runnable on my favorite mobile device?

Yes but Dreamspark (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683831)

Currently, Microsoft gives lots of software for "free" to university students through the "DreamSpark" program.

Re:Give 'em your Kool-Aid (0)

fermion (181285) | about 5 months ago | (#46684319)

When I was in school, the MS stuff was available for the cost of the media. I know that people say MS gives away programming tools, but really, they don't. I have tried to program with what MS gives away and it is crap in comparison with something like Eclipse or xcode.

Now, it is true that with xcode you need a Mac, so add $1000 for the programming bit. xcode is also much more complicated that it needs to be for the purpose of teaching.

There are cheap ways to teach kids to program. For way under $100 you can give a kid an Ardiuno kit, then she can use sketch of process to code it. As mentioned, python can be used for free. I suppose we need something like codeschool for kids to get them started.

I lament Microsoft's skills gap in UI design (2, Insightful)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 5 months ago | (#46683337)

How about we send Microsoft some books on how to design a user interface?

Re:I lament Microsoft's skills gap in UI design (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683501)

Yeah, some real choice UIs coming out of the open source world. Let's see what books the Unity and Gnome teams have been reading and send them over to MS.

Re:I lament Microsoft's skills gap in UI design (1)

RazorSharp (1418697) | about 5 months ago | (#46683821)

There are tons of crappy open source GUIs but there's also XFCE and LXDE.

Anyway, the guy you're responding to never mentioned open source. A fair Apples to Apples comparison is OS X, which Microsoft hasn't been able to catch up to for almost fifteen years. It's pretty sad that there are open source GUIs like XFCE that are drastically better than XP, Vista, 7, and especially 8.

Re:I lament Microsoft's skills gap in UI design (1)

chispito (1870390) | about 5 months ago | (#46683869)

How about we send Microsoft some books on how to design a user interface?

You fail to grasp Microsoft's brilliant play. Metro is a feature to encourage the use of the (Power)shell environment.

Re:I lament Microsoft's skills gap in UI design (2)

Number42 (3443229) | about 5 months ago | (#46684149)

I finally get it. The weak get weeded out and jump ship to OSes with usable GUIs, while the strong remain, having learned to use the POSIX-compliant shell. They then come to the realization that if they're using the command line for everything anyway, they might as well switch to Linux. Wait...

There is no gap (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683343)

It's a manufactured crisis. They want cheaper programmer wages by introducing more kids that can program to the labor workforce. The labor market already reflects the lucrative nature of the service economy (it isn't).

Bad figures (3, Insightful)

chthon (580889) | about 5 months ago | (#46683355)

Yeah, 1,000,000,000 lines of code. And it takes 9 women just 1 month to create 1 baby.

Re:Bad figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683525)

lol, good one,,,,

American kids, while simultaneously lobbying for more H-1B visas to fill that gap

What defines an American!! Being a person from an ancestry of immigrants that stole and committed genocide against indigenous people? From 'Mexicans" to Native Americans?

It seems MS like all monopolizing tech industries are trying to create worker drones. Instead of creating a "free thinking" education system.

Re:Bad figures (0)

nbritton (823086) | about 5 months ago | (#46683985)

Yeah, 1,000,000,000 lines of code. And it takes 9 women just 1 month to create 1 baby.

Actually It does take 9 women just 1 month to create 1 baby. In 1 month the baby's DNA is fully fleshed out, so for the 8 other months the mother is just acting as an incubator. The human genome is about 3.2 million base pairs, so 9 women should be able to produce 28.8 billion lines of code in one month.

Re:Bad figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46684407)

1 strain of DNA != 1 baby...

Forget a link...? (1)

mschoolbus (627182) | about 5 months ago | (#46683377)

You should have included a link to something in your summary...

No. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 5 months ago | (#46683387)

Kids should be given FULL copies of Visual Studio. and a decent set of books that explain to kids how to use it and write software.

Many kids started with a home computer that did nothing but drop you into a basic interpreter prompt and they ramped up fast on their own.

Sadly Visual Basic is just C# lite so it has as steep of a learning curve as C# and C++ does directly. so there is nothing that a kid can get right into fast.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683451)

My C64 had a SYS command to start an ML program, and a book that documented all the opcodes, and that was all I needed. When I saw how much faster you could clear a bitmap in ML compared to POKEs inside for a FOR-NEXT loop, I was hooked.

Re:No. (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 5 months ago | (#46683465)

Kids should be given FULL copies of Visual Studio

Here you go [dreamspark.com] .

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683513)

Various flavours of Visual Studio Express are available for free from Microsoft already and do everything a child would need

Re:No. (2)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 5 months ago | (#46683593)

I agree that Visual Basic .NET is a lot less "learnable" (for lack of a better word) than old-school Visual Basic.

But what feature do you think the Express version of Visual Studio lacks for this use? (Ignoring for a moment that students generally can get a full version of VS for very cheap or free through their school.) Why the all-caps on the word "FULL"?

Hell, from my experience, most actual dev shops don't even use the FULL ("Ultimate") version of Visual Studio, the standard edition is fine for 99.9% of use-cases.

Re:No. (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 5 months ago | (#46683691)

Why "full" copies of Visual Studio? What does the Express editions lack that kids would need? They have access to the full capabilities of the .Net framework, a full C/C++ environment and more - the Express editions really lack the surrounding IDE features that would be lost that early on in the developer learning curve, stuff like profiling etc.

Re:No. (1)

RazorSharp (1418697) | about 5 months ago | (#46683893)

I disagree. I think kids should be given a good Linux distro and an internet connection. Why do they need Visual Studio and books?

Just you let you kids... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683389)

..go visit their new friend, just met online, Pedobear666? Alone?

Microsoft (2)

DaMattster (977781) | about 5 months ago | (#46683401)

Will Microsoft even be relevant in the future? They seem to have stagnated on innovation and are late coming to the latest and greatest technology party. Google and Facebook have relegated Microsoft to a lesser innovator.

Re:Microsoft (4, Informative)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 5 months ago | (#46683437)

And what is coming out of Facebook that is so "innovative"? Hack? I mean, come on...

Re:Microsoft (1)

NewWorldDan (899800) | about 5 months ago | (#46683805)

Microsoft has always been the lesser innovator. They're always late to the party. But they still have a stranglehold on the business desktop and that isn't going to change any time soon. Too many businesses have legacy apps that haven't been updated in 10 years and that they can't realistically migrate away from. The hard part for Microsoft this time around is that they're having to change their business model - from making money selling software to giving away the software and making money off every stupid thing the user does. Personally, I prefer to buy the software and be done with it, but the times they are a changing.

Re:Microsoft (2)

RazorSharp (1418697) | about 5 months ago | (#46683935)

You seem to forget that Facebook and Microsoft are in bed together. I wouldn't really consider them to be an innovator, though. Facebook's like the internet's Windows '95 -- and they're buying up companies in a fashion similar to how Microsoft did in the 90s.

How do we increase Office 365 market share? (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 5 months ago | (#46683415)

Get 'em young, get em forever - nothing original here.

"should" (4, Informative)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 5 months ago | (#46683417)

There are a lot of articles about what Microsoft "Should" be doing recently. IMO Microsoft is already going above and beyond when it comes to providing students free developer tools: https://www.dreamspark.com/ [dreamspark.com]

i dont understand this (3, Informative)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about 5 months ago | (#46683445)

...why do people have the ridiculous assumptions that..

1. coding is "fun" and it's something kids/adults would just love spending time doing "if we just exposed them to it"

and

2, that kids/adults want to spend their lives in semi-constant frustration of having to get these damn computers working and to learn and relearn skills every 4 years?

my 12yo daughter encapsulated it perfectly a few months ago..

"dad...you seem really smart...why in the world did you decide to be a programmer and sit behind a computer 10 hours a day instead of doing something cool?"

What makes work fun (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 5 months ago | (#46683685)

1. coding is "fun" and it's something kids/adults would just love spending time doing "if we just exposed them to it"

It can be fun. It can also be soul-breakingly boring. Describes most jobs I know. I'm both an engineer and an accountant. There are aspects of both jobs that are super cool and fun and there are others that I'd rather poke myself in the eye with a fork than do more of it. What makes a job interesting is A) the problem you are working on to solve and B) the people you are doing it with. You need an interesting and relevant problem and you need to work on it with competent people you enjoy working with. What works well for me might bore the crap out of you and that's ok.

2, that kids/adults want to spend their lives in semi-constant frustration of having to get these damn computers working and to learn and relearn skills every 4 years?

Computers are never going to become a smaller part of our lives. One can spend one's life in frustration or get on board and learn about them and they become significantly less frustrating. Not to mention lucrative. I spent a lot of my life learning to use computers well and I am both more productive and less frustrated than a lot of my colleagues as a result. I'm not a programmer but most of the jobs I've gotten have been thanks to my computer skills. Basic principles don't change much so learn those and then you are simply filling in some details here and there.

"dad...you seem really smart...why in the world did you decide to be a programmer and sit behind a computer 10 hours a day instead of doing something cool?"

No disrespect to your daughter but there are a lot of very interesting and fun things that don't seem "cool" to a twelve year old. There are a lot of things you can do as a programmer that are borderline magic and I have huge respect for people who can do it well. Furthermore there are a lot of jobs that aren't "cool" but are immensely satisfying. If you spend your life pursuing what other people think is cool instead of what you think is cool then you're probably going to lead a very frustrating existence.

Re:i dont understand this (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 5 months ago | (#46683839)

"dad...you seem really smart...why in the world did you decide to be a programmer and sit behind a computer 10 hours a day instead of doing something cool?"

Because we knew that someone, someday, would create this. [youtube.com]

The opinions of a 12 year old are irrelevant (4, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | about 5 months ago | (#46683879)

Unless you were a roadie for Beyonce or Bieber she'd probably say the same about any job you did whether you were a top surgeon or an airline pilot.

Re:The opinions of a 12 year old are irrelevant (1)

bmajik (96670) | about 5 months ago | (#46684365)

Relevant:

http://everythingfunny.org/wp-... [everythingfunny.org]

Re:i dont understand this (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 5 months ago | (#46683891)

Learning the concepts of coding can be incredibly useful for anyone using computers in the workplace. It's not about people writing full blown programs, but writing Excel macros or doing a little VBA scripting. Similarly, I know a little about carpentry, tiling, plumbing and electrical work, and I found these to be very useful skills to have for small jobs around the house, but I don't do any of that for a living. Learning a little coding doesn't mean you have to make a career out of it.

"dad...you seem really smart...why in the world did you decide to be a programmer and sit behind a computer 10 hours a day instead of doing something cool?"

Sounds like a perception issue, and one that sadly is perpetuated in schools and society at large. Think of the cliche oft-heard lament in movies, parent talking to son: "You could have been a doctor or a lawyer". My brother's kid provided a nice counterexample; when they had a class discussion on interesting family members: "One of my uncles builds robots, one of them writes iPhone apps, and one of them works for Blackberry" (back then, BB still was a cool brand) which according to the class trumped the other kids with family doctors, lawyers, MPs or directors in coolness factor.

But with that said, it is true that with older kids and adults, coding carries very little glamour or prestige (which does have an impact on pay, by the way).

Re:i dont understand this (3, Interesting)

gtall (79522) | about 5 months ago | (#46684055)

Well, in fairness to your daughter, you'll be getting dumber and dumber until she hits about 21. Then you'll start getting smarter again. If I were you, I'd use the "dumb time" to pick up some high return hobbies so you'll be ready for her when she hits 21.

No because BOOOOO Microsoft... (2)

bazmail (764941) | about 5 months ago | (#46683511)

and HOOOORAY open source and slashdot type stuff!!!

Should Microsoft X? Should Microsoft Y? (4, Funny)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 5 months ago | (#46683523)

Should Microsoft be forced to support XP? Should Microsoft give kids Office? Should Microsoft start making hybrid cars out of farm waste?

Maybe a better question should be: does any decision-maker at Microsoft give a tenth of a fuck about what any Slashdot poster has to say? I'm wagering the answer to that one is: no.

Re:Should Microsoft X? Should Microsoft Y? (1)

Buchenskjoll (762354) | about 5 months ago | (#46683611)

Maybe not a decifuck, but at least a few centifucks...

Re:Should Microsoft X? Should Microsoft Y? (1)

Number42 (3443229) | about 5 months ago | (#46684187)

Anyone got a fuck-o-meter?

A better question (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46683887)

Perhaps a better question is "If Microsoft fails to do so, what's stopping someone from taking advantage of this failure and bringing about the era of a freely licensed operating system on desktop computers?"

Re:A better question (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 5 months ago | (#46683959)

Well, in the case of Linux, it appears the answer is: "constant in-fighting and general incompetence." Next question? I'm an expert at these ones!

Re:A better question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46684039)

Well, in the case of Linux, it appears the answer is: "constant in-fighting and general incompetence." Next question? I'm an expert at these ones!

Ouch. Somebody get tepples the number of a good burn treatment center.

Re:Should Microsoft X? Should Microsoft Y? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46684209)

No matter what MS does the majority of Slashdotters are going to claim that they're in the wrong. Bill Gates could cure cancer at 10 cents a dose and someone here would cry that it should only be 5 cents a dose.
 
And MS already gives away a perfectly good development suite to anyone who wants it. Why should they have to give away Office too?

Training instead of H-1Bs (2)

Thomas Twinnings (1971230) | about 5 months ago | (#46683539)

We should be very conservative with our H-1B Visas. Every one of these visas issued amounts to one less job for a US citizen, and usually a good paying job, at that. If there are not enough citizens with the needed skills, then companies themselves can hire-to-train. It is called hiring "entry-level".

Re:Training instead of H-1Bs (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 5 months ago | (#46683733)

Entry level Indian/Pakistani are still cheaper. What needs to happen is that H1B's should by law have 150% of the median income for the area for that type of job and an additional 50% invested in local education programs

Re:Training instead of H-1Bs (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 5 months ago | (#46683949)

Genius! That would be a great way to prove what H1-Bs are *really* about.

Re:Training instead of H-1Bs (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 5 months ago | (#46684115)

Entry level Indian/Pakistani are still cheaper. What needs to happen is that H1B's should by law have 150% of the median income for the area for that type of job and an additional 50% invested in local education programs

In addition, H1B holders should be free to change companies after say six months without losing their visa. If companies are paying the prevailing wage then that should not cause problems for them; if they aren't then the free market will sort it out for them.

Reciprocal work visas (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46683951)

Every one of these visas issued amounts to one less job for a US citizen

Not necessarily, for two reasons. First, expats in the US on a work visa will be buying goods and services with the money that they earn in the US and paying US and state income tax, state and local sales tax, and local property tax with the money that they earn in the US. US residents benefit from these expats' demand for goods produced by US residents, and governments benefit from their tax dollars. Second, if the US grants a Canadian citizen one work visa, and Canada grants one US citizen a work visa, no net US citizens lose jobs. And once the regulatory environment becomes zero-sum in such a manner, citizens of both countries gain the ability to seek out the most efficient employment, which benefits both countries.

It's not THEIR problem (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 months ago | (#46684121)

Companies want instant gratification and lobby for it. Training that fits a certain tool stack takes too long for their little twiddling Thurston Howell fingers. They don't care if the US is flooded with unemployed techies who don't happen match the company profile of the day, that's not their problem. They just want greenbacks and yachts. A shrinking middle class is somebody ELSE'S problem.

I want special peanut butter; I don't care if it's uneconomical for the store to carry the brand me, myself, and I want: that's THEIR problem. I want what I want, when I want it; the store's own situation and balance sheet be damned. Me me me!

VBA ?!? (5, Informative)

Knightman (142928) | about 5 months ago | (#46683563)

Learning kids to program using VBA is like learning to cycle using a pogo-stick.

Shouldn't you be giving kids free stuff? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683567)

What I find more interesting is the quickness with which human nature makes us willing to jump to implying that someone else we perceive as rich/wealthy, somehow should be more charitable by giving more stuff of theirs away for free, especially their livelihood and implying they are somehow lacking if they fail to do so.

Just because a person, corporation, or other entity participated in one charitable endeavor, it doesn't make them obligated or others entitled to have them participate in other related ones.

If there are reasons it would be best for them to do so, it would be better to present them in a positive fashion to the company than to make backhanded implications that they are somehow uncharitable or hypocritical if they do not.

Discussions like these are usually started in false altruism by people who could spend their time and effort better being more charitable themselves. Rather than actually doing so themselves it is more simple to pretend it is charity to attack others for some arbitrary perceived failure and implied entitlement of some group.

Microsoft teaches you to be a bad neighbour (2)

ikhider (2837593) | about 5 months ago | (#46683583)

Let us see, do we have the four freedoms? 1. The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0). No, only the purposes designated by the Microsoft EULA. When you buy a laptop, even if you disagree with a EULA, the manufacturer (like HP) will not even permit you to refund the OS. 2) The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this. The Micorosft EULA specifically prohibits this. 3) The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2). Once again, the Microsoft EULA specifically prohibits this. 4) The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this. This again, violates the Microsoft EULA. Micorsoft is not interested in a a better world, rather it is interested in their share value and market dominance. Better to have the kids work on Libreoffice.

Re:Microsoft teaches you to be a bad neighbour (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 5 months ago | (#46683779)

Why does everyone in the world have to conform to your ideology? Those freedoms are part of your ideology, nothing more.

Re:Microsoft teaches you to be a bad neighbour (1)

ikhider (2837593) | about 5 months ago | (#46684127)

The four freedoms are an ideal to aspire to. The fact is, Microsoft runs the show. We have to conform to Microsoft and (for you) Apple's ideology. In the words of the old Apple ads, 'think different'. ; - )

Re:Microsoft teaches you to be a bad neighbour (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 5 months ago | (#46684257)

The four freedoms are *your* ideal to aspire to, never forget that :) I'm all for people releasing their source code, if they want to - however, I don't feel people should be vilified purely because they choose not to.

Um, Visual Studio Express is free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683587)

Free download.

Kids Don't Care About Office VBA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683609)

Uh, I think this about the last programming framework a kid is going to care about. Kids are going to learn programming from Minecraft mods or scripting languages like Python, or (maybe) mobile app programming. VBA is dull stuff like...forms.

I think its disinclusion is pretty damn irrelevant.

Showing students the value of forms (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46684087)

Until you get to high school, where the geeks in a particular class gain reputation by programming Texas Instruments graphing calculators to help with certain problems in math class and chemistry class and sharing those programs with classmates. That's essentially "forms", but it teaches about automating repetitive problems with a simple program.

That is a horrible idea (5, Insightful)

enigmatic (122657) | about 5 months ago | (#46683637)

Have you ever spent time writing VBA code?
Did you enjoy it?

If we want more people to take up coding, making them do VBA code is a great way to scare everyone away from ever programming again.

Microsoft does not want kids coding... (4, Insightful)

dtjohnson (102237) | about 5 months ago | (#46683641)

...based on what they DO rather than on what they SAY. They used to supply a simple basic interpreter with every copy of MS-DOS that cost nothing and was simple to use. That is long gone and nothing has ever taken its place. If kids want to code now, the options are expensive, complicated, and are not included in the price of 'Windows.' Moreover, Microsoft distributes sophisticated video games that suck up the time and creative energy of the very kids that would otherwise be likely to code in the first place. One might think that Microsoft would encourage high schools to offer coding curricula by distributing tools to high schools for free/low cost and providing training and guidance for teachers. Instead, Microsoft distributes Office for low cost and we are talking in TFA about what Office can do as a development tool. One has to conclude, based on its actions, that the very last thing Microsoft wants is for a lot of bright american kids to be actually writing powerful creative code for Windows.

Re:Microsoft does not want kids coding... (4, Informative)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 5 months ago | (#46683797)

Microsoft does not want kids coding based on what they DO rather than on what they SAY. They used to supply a simple basic interpreter with every copy of MS-DOS that cost nothing and was simple to use. That is long gone and nothing has ever taken its place. If kids want to code now, the options are expensive, complicated, and are not included in the price of 'Windows.'

Apparently, Slashdotters are truly ignorant about Dreamspark [dreamspark.com] , as this is the third time I've had to post it. Let me spell it out for you. From the FAQ:

What is DreamSpark?
DreamSpark is a Microsoft Program that supports technical education by providing access to Microsoft software for learning, teaching and research purposes.
DreamSpark is simple: it's all about giving students Microsoft professional-level developer and designer tools at no cost so that students can chase their dreams and create the next big breakthrough in technology - or just get a head start on their career.
High schools, vocational and trade schools, community colleges and universities are all eligible to participate in the DreamSpark program. Simply put, any accredited school around the world is eligible.

Emphasis mine. Here is a sampling of the software available:

  • Visual Studio Professional versions 2008 through 2013
  • Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro
  • Microsoft Expression Studio 4 Ultimate
  • Kinect for Windows SDK
  • XNA Game Studio 4
  • Kodu Game Lab
  • Small Basic
  • Microsoft Mathematics 4
  • Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio
  • etc...

Re:Microsoft does not want kids coding... (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | about 5 months ago | (#46683961)

So...which of those titles are included with every copy of Windows? Which of those provide kids with a simple and powerful way to create something impressive? For which of those can they share the results back and forth with their friends? If Bill Gates was a teenager now, he would be on xbox live and there never would have been any Microsoft.

Re:Microsoft does not want kids coding... (3, Interesting)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 5 months ago | (#46684191)

So...which of those titles are included with every copy of Windows?

Why does it have to come with the OS? What does that even matter these days, when everything is a download away.Almost half the products I listed are available direct from MS without going through Dreamspark:

Just a simple download away. You can even download [visualstudio.com] Visual Studio Express for free to develop for web, desktop, or Windows Phone. This is a great place for kids to start. When they're ready for advanced features, they can move over to the full version through Dreamspark.

Which of those provide kids with a simple and powerful way to create something impressive?

Take your pick. There's something for all levels. Smallbasic and Kodu Game Lab are products for beginners. Next level up they can use Robotics studio or XNA Game Lab. Kinect SDK is very powerful and easy to use as well with lots of example code.

If Bill Gates was a teenager now, he would be on xbox live and there never would have been any Microsoft.

Many gamers are very keen to make their own games, but they don't know how. MS provides tools for this. I've taught many middle / high school students how to program robots using MS Robotics studio and the Kinect SDK, and they love it. It's amazing the kind of stuff they come up with.

Re:Microsoft does not want kids coding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46684249)

So you want MS to throw an extra 4 gigs of installed software on every PC out there for that 1 in 100 who'll ever open it and the 1 in 1000 who'll ever get beyond "I don't know what the f*** this is" and never open it again?
 
You're a royal asshat.

Re:Microsoft does not want kids coding... (1)

BUL2294 (1081735) | about 5 months ago | (#46684311)

Unfortunately, easier said than done. All of these have unbelievably steep learning curves to do anything reasonable. Ironically, my interest in programming started with my TI-99/4A in 1983-1985. I used to get magazines that would provide programs (that I'd spend an hour-plus typing in) to see how it works. I didn't really know the limits of that machine, so it was cool to see what I could do with it--and how I could change the programs to do certain things...

Unfortunately, with Dreamspark tools above, there's no "just start coding & see what happens". There's no really basic / for kids "how to make fun little programs with Visual Studio" that come with Dreamspark. I don't see a child using a $60 book from SAMS or Microsoft Press ("Learn Visual Studio in 24 Hours!") as 1) the books aren't aimed for them, 2) the cost to buy one is at a price point questioned by most parents.

iPads are even worse... You can't program for them on them (not that you'd want to attempt such a thing with the on-screen keyboard) and you need an expensive Mac to do so, tethered to your iPad. (So there's no immediate gratification...)

Kids nowadays see what their computers are capable of--by playing video games that test the limits of their PCs. Why write a little program that draws some lines when the child could play a video game that's much more visually stimulating & engaging???

Re:Microsoft does not want kids coding... (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 5 months ago | (#46684145)

Wsh has scripting and comes with windows. Ie has the same.

And they can get .net and studio express for free if they are so inclined.

This is an improvement over basic, and no need to dismiss it just because its not pointy clicky like office.

Re:Microsoft does not want kids coding... (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about 5 months ago | (#46684277)

If kids want to code now, the options are expensive, complicated, and are not included in the price of 'Windows.'

There are a ton of open source tools out there (not to mention Microsoft's Visual Studio Express is free). I'm not sure how much teachers know about these tools, but that's a different issue.

Re:Microsoft does not want kids coding... (1)

bmajik (96670) | about 5 months ago | (#46684479)

Your conclusion is entirely wrong.

Because Microsoft doesn't do the things YOU think Microsoft should do, you can ascertain the motivations and goals of Microsoft?

How interesting. Suppose we hire you to lead our CS education strategy. Can you promise results? Are you willing to bet your career on your prophecies coming true?

Let me tell you what IS true.

Microsoft lets me -- and many other MS employees -- volunteer to teach CS in public K-12 schools, 1 hour a day, before heading into the office for our "real jobs".

MS spends money to make this happen (volunteer matching hours), and gets less of my productive time (without docking my pay). There are full-time employees dedicated to this project. They have no other MS business function.

The program I am referring to is called TEALS (www.tealsk12.org)

It is just one of the ways that MS puts time, money, and people, into trying to build a better pipeline of students who can do CS.

I don't think stuffing GWBASIC back into windows is going to take us from where we are to where we need to be.

VBA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683693)

Please don't get them started on VBA. That's the worst you could do. There are so many alternatives that could get them started on projects they find a lot more fun.

Just a thought, but... (3, Informative)

erp_consultant (2614861) | about 5 months ago | (#46683717)

If we want kids better prepared, with the skills that MS claims are lacking, maybe we should spend less money on sports and more money in the classroom?

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683755)

Is this submission for real?

I remember when I was in Middle School, High School, or even college, automating a "boring" office application was probably the last thing that I would want to do.

I can almost guarantee you that every school at this point has some version of Office. Care to guess how many students have actually opened up the programming tools in Office? (accidentally opening them doesn't count!). I'd guess that number is close to 0.

School is the perfect time to teach something more _fun_ such as Python/Ruby, maybe even Java because students are more interested in the cool things they can do. This exploration leads them down the path of understanding what else they can do with programming and eventually allows them to tackle harder, real problems.

After school is a great time to teach adults how to use tools built into everyday products to make their lives _easier_. Tools such as VBA, etc. are perfect for this because the gain in time is immediately obvious.

Visual Studio Express (2)

ZeroSerenity (923363) | about 5 months ago | (#46683799)

That exists. I'm not sure programmable office is entirely necessary when they're giving that away.

MIT debating a computer science requirement (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 5 months ago | (#46683801)

MIT has been debating to add a computer science requirement for over 30 years. Interesting Idaho schools has beaten them. MIT came pretty close a few years ago proposing to replace the 2nd required physics course with an engineering choice, one which could be computer science.

The arguments AGAINST this new requirment include that (1) MIT already specifies 7(*) of the 16 year long courses the average undergraduate takes. Another would start to eat in the requirments of intensive majors like engineering. (2) Most MIT stiudents know some computer programming before they enter MIT, although it is not of software engineering quality.


(*) Year of calculus, year of physics, year of chemistry/biology, four years of humanities. Even if you are a music major.

Re:MIT debating a computer science requirement (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 5 months ago | (#46683905)

When I attended CMU, I know at least the colleges of science, engineering, and even business have a required computer science course.

Re:MIT debating a computer science requirement (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 5 months ago | (#46683979)

OK, unless there's some "computers for dummies" class on the curriculum, I see no point to this. I see a lot of people frustrated with computers and unless you're going to hand feed them very practical information (backups, virus protection, safe browsing, etc.) you're just going to turn them off even more.

there are probably better simpler examples (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 5 months ago | (#46683843)

Office is a avery intricate application. Many mobile apps ae more self-contained. Plus a gaming type app might capture more attention of teens than a dull business application.

Re:there are probably better simpler examples (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 5 months ago | (#46684013)

Office is a avery intricate application.

You're thinking of angry birds

Why would a kid want to program something in VBA? (1)

unimacs (597299) | about 5 months ago | (#46683939)

There are lots of free programming languages and tools out there that I think would be a lot more interesting to kids. If Microsoft wants more programming/engineering kids coming out of schools why don't they donate a bunch of Raspberry Pis, BeagleBones, Arduinos, or Lego Mindstorms?

VBA has got to be one of the least engaging programming tools out there. I'm not saying there's anything in particular wrong with it and it can be very useful to businesses but it's hardly going to inspire any kid who might be so inclined to get into programming.

stop sucking up to MS and Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46683995)

start using libreoffice for the lame, office related courses. Also, actually start teaching interested kids about hardware and programming from an early age, using free software. Companies that want their tech taught can donate the licenses and funds necessary to provide for a given class and kids can choose what they want to learn about. Right now, in a fair portion of the US, a kid has to do it him/herself assuming they have the money for the hardware or gas/bike/time to go to the library and enough knowledge to see the importance. it's unfair and embarassing given the nation's resources.

Brenden Eich Hypocricy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46684001)

It's funny how all of the supporters of FWD.us come from companies that have 'progressive views', yet continue to pander to India which recently recriminalized homosexuality. For these people it all comes down to money. Instead of investing in American children, they prefer to take in foreign organizations whose governments footed the bill for higher education. Hypocrisy at its best.

Microsoft how phoney is that? (1)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | about 5 months ago | (#46684015)

How many of those '1,332,784,839 lines of code' were written in Python on a Raspberry Pi? Both of which are things Microsoft would really rather not support (like the Baptists do not like to support having sex while standing up, because it might lead to dancing).

Fixed Summary (2)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 5 months ago | (#46684081)

"Over at Microsoft on the Issues, Microsoft continues to lament the gap between computer programming skills and a willingness to work on the cheap of American kids, while simultaneously lobbying for more H-1B visas to fill that gap."

It's far cheaper to rent an H1B programmer who you can dump easily once their skills are outdated than to hire someone , train them to keep skills current, and pay based on demand for those skills.

No, just give them Free, Ope Sourced LibreOffice (1)

taikedz (2782065) | about 5 months ago | (#46684101)

TDF should be pushing their scriptable LibreOffice [libreoffice.org] , and point out the benefits of not having to purchase it either now or in the future, the freedom of open formats, and also the benefits from a "smart kids" point of view to giving them an open-sourced office suite they can tinker with.

If companies see value in using Microsoft's full suite and stack, more power to them both. In the mean time, from an educational, budget and general open formats point of view, LibreOffice is the way to go.

Heck, if it's about kids' programming skills, and if the kids think they can improve the scriptability of the application itself, they could even submit their own patches and features to LO. Not so with MSO.

No, don't torture them. (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 5 months ago | (#46684111)

No. Don't torture them. On day 1 of class the teacher explains it, perhaps like this:

"Programming languages are keys that open doors in the computer. Some open more doors than others. Some open them in a different way. Some computers come with keys and some don't. There are a lot of choices on how to solve this problem. The way I've chosen is.... (teachers tells them what, perhaps even why.)".

See. No big problem, really. The students learn that a language may or may not come with the system, and that you can chose languages. The concept of components is important in software, and they learn it right up front.

shit head corporate morons! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46684337)

Bill Gates, 60+ billion and still not enough, he still looks for H-1B workers. H-1B competition is about lowering cost(paying employees shit for your talent) not about your skill set. Corporations(short sighted) behave like they have a mental sickness, they want cheap labor but at the same time large profits, but how can this be if the U.S citizen(large market) wont be able to afford their fucking products because they are making below $5.25 an hour.

Get rid of the corporate loopholes and let them compete at the same level as small businesses. Look at the disgusting Apple and Google employee agreements and how the corporate mental sickness works. The majority of our manufacturing is gone and still going and now our service jobs are going as well. What will be left for us to do? prostitution? slavery?

U.S.A, the land of shortsighted morons living in the moment($$$) fucking the future up. Government regulations? well, good, I don't want the acid rain back or cancer because some dip shit corporate asshole dumped toxic waste into the hudson river.

   

nonsense (2)

Tom (822) | about 5 months ago | (#46684401)

Teaching kids programming is a total and complete waste of money.

Those who are interested will learn by themselves. Those who aren't, won't even if you make it mandatory. But the unintended consequences are what's going to get you: Everyone will think that programming is easy because it's something the kids learn.

School should teach basic skills that can then be applied to programming, but also to a long list of other skills. Teach critical thinking, logic, math. Teach people how to learn, not what. Teach them reading comprehension so they can study on their own. Teach them trial-and-error and that failure is an option because it teaches you what you did wrong.

Most of all, don't solve a shortage of programmers by creating a million bad and counterproductive ones. You don't solve a shortage of doctors by giving random people scalpels and a license to cut open bellies, do you?

Good programmers are a lot more difficult to find than any programmer. I'd rather hire one good guy then five students for the same price.

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