The Pullman-based university became the first west of the Mississippi River to make some Microsoft software legally free to download from the Internet. It is available to students, faculty, and staff.
"It's a case of staying on the cutting edge of technology," said James Tinney, a WSU spokesman.
Various programs are available free to all WSU students in every field of study and on each campus.
Ryan Lockwood, a WSU graduate who works for Redmond-based Microsoft, helped create the deal under the Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance program. The University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Dartmouth College, Howard University, and the State University of New York, Stony Brook, also have agreements allowing them to distribute the software campuswide.
Membership in the alliance typically entails a licensing fee per university department.
"WSU is extremely pleased to broaden its academic partnership with the world's largest software developer," said WSU President V. Lane Rawlins.
Dozens of specialized titles that allow users to develop software and applications for a wide range of purposes are available for download. But titles in the Microsoft Office Suite used by general users, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, are not available through the program.
Lockwood, a 1992 graduate in public relations, is academic programs marketing manager for MSDNAA in the United States.
The WSU-MSDNAA project started this summer, when hundreds of people downloaded thousands of titles in a pilot program to test the direct download.