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Microsoft in Universities

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  • User profile image
    MisterDonut

    When answering a question concerning LISP in this forum, I made a comment


    MisterDonut wrote:

    In fact, I know of a company who specializes in AI (It's their bread and butter, complete with software patents) that was porting their AI engine from LISP into Java (they're all University Academics, and you'd have an easier time making the Pope Baptist than you would getting them to use a Microsoft product).


    Is this something people see world-wide? Or something you only see at a couple of Universities? I see the Universities, in the Comp-Sci department, vehemently against Microsoft and it's products. Shoot, they didn't even want a wireless campus, because of security. But the Business departments (who actually funded the wireless campus) were pushing Microsoft quite a bit.

    If this is a large phenomenon, why is it that Microsoft products are shunned by University computer scientists? Is it because they have plenty of time and want to tinker with source code? Obviously, corporate image has something to do with it, although, they seem really into Java, and while Java has a community process, it is overlorded by Sun, who can Veto anything it wants.

    Any thoughts?

  • User profile image
    Tyler Brown

    I was actually discussing this very topic today at the Ottawa Launch Party with a couple of people. At my university, Microsoft isn't even close to being an integral part of the curriculum. Yes, the Engineering faculty has an MSDNAA subscription. All of the computers in the labs are also loaded with Visual Studio 2003, but the only time we make use of the IDE is when doing C++ programming, which is rather rare.

    The language of choice for our assignments and group projects is Java coupled with the Eclipse IDE. I'm working on a two projects right now that must be implemented in Java. The professor touched on the .Net framework, basically to let everyone know that there are other alternatives out there, but using it not an option.

    I personally think that its a shame that we're locked into Java at our campus. It'd be beneficial to make use of everything so that you can get a feel for whats out there. There is no guarantee that you'll be using the .Net framework in your implementations once you graduate, but there's also no guarantee that you'll be making use of Java either, but this seems to be the message that the curriculum is trying to sell.

    I'd like to see this changed personally, but I don't know how to go about this other than emailing the curriculum administrator. This seems to be the norm at many universities. In fact, the only university in Canada that I have heard make extensive use of Microsoft technologies in their curriculum is the University of Waterloo.

  • User profile image
    blowdart

    Tyler Brown wrote:

    I personally think that its a shame that we're locked into Java at our campus.


    Sun got it very right with Java in academia, even though .net can be argued to be a better example of OO.

    I'm doing a part time degree, for fun more than anything else (and it's amusing to catch myself going way over the top in answers and have to rewrite them because talking UML terms is not a good idea), and I asked why it was Java. The official response was "We don't want to be tied into a single vendor".

    Now that's a good answer in theory, but how many people install one of the alternate VMs? Then there's Sun's stranglehold on the standard itself, very single vendor.

    Maybe they're talking about IDEs, but then there are 3rd party IDEs for .Net, including open source ones. I must admit however, the Java IDE, BlueJ has a very OO approach in the IDE, with no concept of files, wonderful visualisation and a simple IDE. It also has teaching materials with it, that's what it was designed for.

    No, I fear it's an attitude thing. Microsoft come over as arrogant, large, un-moving, not helpful, borg cube.

    Funny, MS UK were advertising for an Academic Evangelist a few months back. Shame it required a degree, or I would have applied.

    A quick project to project a Blue# or something, either hand in hand with the #Develop folks (lovely idea to help them out with real money MS) or as an intern project or as an SDC or US equivalent project, plus help a couple of universities produce a course around it, and get some consultants to help teach it for a couple of years would produce major dividends.

    It's the same with the Patterns & Practises people. The code (before Enterprise Library) was a wonderful teaching tool. I've used it in mentoring projects to illustrate lots of concepts. But it's never pushed as that, it's become a "Here, download this and drop it in", because the poor P&P people are evaluated on the number of downloads. Incredibly stupid and short sighted.

    But a push to education & teaching won't happen. Because it doesn't shift product. And outside the US that's the main focus for everyone (excluding the research offices).

    (I should make this a blog entry, heh : and I did, I'm desperate for content *grin*)

  • User profile image
    irascian

    blowdart wrote:


    It's the same with the Patterns & Practises people. The code (before Enterprise Library) was a wonderful teaching tool. I've used it in mentoring projects to illustrate lots of concepts. But it's never pushed as that, it's become a "Here, download this and drop it in",


    That's down to nearly every user complaining they didn't have the time needed to use the application architecture blocks because trying to explain to your management you needed a week to plough through all the code to try and understand how to use or amend it was a non-runner. The P&P folks emphasised again and again that they were intended to be starters not "drop in" modules but try explaining that to management when they're looking at timesheets.

    The irony is that with Enterprise Library they actually started making available "How to use/amend" documentation that meant you could get productive with the stuff in a much shorter timeframe - but it was too late by then - the "drop it in and run it" instead of the "absorb, learn and modifiy it" mentality had set in.

  • User profile image
    blowdart

    irascian wrote:

    The irony is that with Enterprise Library they actually started making available "How to use/amend" documentation that meant you could get productive with the stuff in a much shorter timeframe - but it was too late by then - the "drop it in and run it" instead of the "absorb, learn and modifiy it" mentality had set in.


    Of course the Enterprise Library is harder to drop in anyway because of its size. Which also makes it hard to teach from.

  • User profile image
    Tensor

    Actually my department way back when used MS stuff quite a lot. They also had Oracle.

    There was the odd lecturer who was vehemently anti-MS but there were others who were working on research projects with people from MS.

    The divide seemed to be that the CompSci types were the vehement anti-MS people, while the Software Engineer / BIS types had a much more pragmatic approach.

  • User profile image
    DoomBringer

    Yeah, parts of my university is really bad with the anti-MS sentiment.  For example, I had a prof who, in the course of teaching computer graphics, said:

    "DirectX is a failure"

    Wow, considering that about 90% of games use it, and it is a pretty decent API in general, that statement is laughable.

    Most profs are relatively sane though.  One or two can be really stupid about the thing.

    Students can be worse though, the Linux zealots on campus are rabid and crazy.  We do even have one Mac elitist, I think.  He tried to beat me up or something.

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