Microsoft woos hobbyist, child programmers

Microsoft aims to woo hobbyist and child programmers to its software platform through the Coding4Fun site.

Microsoft is hoping to lure hobbyist programmers and young children to the Windows platform through a Web site and forthcoming version of Visual Studio aimed at making Windows development easy and fun, a company spokesman said.

On a Web site called Coding4Fun, Microsoft is inviting third parties to submit content that will encourage developers who code for a hobby to build new applications using the .NET framework and Windows, said Daniel Fernandez, a senior product manager in Microsoft's developer division.

One project highlighted on the site is a new development language designed to replace BASIC as the language in which young children begin programming in schools. Kid's Programming Language (KPL) aims to "make it fun for kids learning to code," according to the Coding4Fun Web site. KPL was developed by Jon Schwartz of Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based software development company Morrison Schwartz East, and is available as a free download from

Morrison Schwartz currently is working on a series of video games inspired by classic arcade games built using KPL. The games will be released on Microsoft's Coding4Fun site in a few months.

Microsoft sees KPL as an easy way to introduce kids to programming, as well as an easy transition to Visual Studio Express, because many features in KPL's development environment are similar to those in Microsoft's tools suite, Fernandez said.

Microsoft has always been aggressive in its tactics to court young people, particularly students, to program on Windows, said Rick Ross, the founder of the JavaLobby, a news and development forum for Java programmers. For example, the company gives university students a complimentary subscription on the Microsoft Developer Network site so they can download the company's software for free, he said.

"Microsoft has been tremendously successful in penetrating academia with this program," Ross said. "It gives [students] a knowledge of and tendency to use Microsoft programs when they leave school."

However, in the past several years, the trend has been that Java is replacing C++ as the first programming language students learn in school because it is extremely easy to teach, he said. This may explain why Microsoft is promoting efforts that would lure programmers to its software platform before they enter a formal computer science program.

The Coding4 Fun site went live at the same time the first beta of Visual Studio Express Edition, a lightweight, user-friendly version of Microsoft's .Net development toolset, was released in March, Fernandez said. The scaled-down version of Visual Studio is expected to be released to manufacturing Nov. 7 when Microsoft formally launches all new versions of Visual Studio 2005.

Fernandez said that Microsoft started out as a company that allowed programming hobbyists to build applications easily on Windows, but that audience has become under-served as Microsoft focused so heavily on its enterprise software business in recent years.

Earlier this year, Fernandez and another Microsoft engineer "decided to rejuvenate the hobbyist market" with the Coding4Fun Web site. The site is in line with Microsoft's enterprise strategy as well, because not only is the developer hobbyist community a subset of professional developers, but also "you never know what the next killer app will be," he said.

"There are very large audiences of people building these applications," Fernandez said. "If we can make their lives easier, that's a win for us."

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?