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Microsoft Targets Nonprofessional Programmers

New stripped-down versions of Visual Studio and SQL Server can be used to write simple Web applications.

Microsoft on Tuesday disclosed plans to release inexpensive, lightweight versions of its Visual Studio developer's tools and SQL Server database for nonprofessional developers.

The stripped-down editions of Microsoft's flagship development environment and database are aimed at students, hobbyists, and others who might want to write small, simple Web-site applications. Microsoft says it will create these "Express" editions of SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005, Visual Web Developer 2005, and its C# 2005, C++ 2005, and Visual J# 2005 computer-programming languages.

The products are aimed at "the next generation of IT professionals," said Eric Rudder, Microsoft senior VP of servers and tools, in a statement. The products will be available for download later this week on Microsoft's Web site.

Microsoft hopes to tap into the growing community of developers who are building applets for E-commerce sites such as, eBay, and PayPal. Each of those companies is creating starter kits to be used with Microsoft's Express products.

In another effort to cast its programming net wider, Microsoft on Monday said it is loosening the licensing terms for developers working with Windows CE 5.0, a version of Microsoft's operating system designed for use in mobile devices and other embedded applications.

Microsoft has been gradually making Windows CE source code available to developers under the company's Shared Source Initiative. Under that program, it's now allowing all licensees to ship products built from their modifications of the Windows CE 5.0 shared source code, while retaining ownership of their derivative code. More than 2.5 million lines of the Windows CE 5.0 source code are available to programmers. Windows CE 5.0 goes into manufacturing next week.

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