Microsoft Reveals Details of SPARK Your Imagination Embedded Program

At the Embedded Systems Conference, Microsoft Corp. rolled out the full details about its SPARK Your Imagination community-focused program, a joint agreement between Microsoft and select hardware vendors to bring a complete offering of hardware and software to nonprofessional developers through a simple and affordable engagement model. The program offerings have an estimated retail value of $1,300 and will be available immediately worldwide at prices ranging from $250 to $350.

Previously code-named the “SPARK” initiative when it was first announced in November 2007, SPARK Your Imagination brings the benefits of embedded development on Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 and Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition to hobbyist developers and the academic community. Currently, under its MSDN Academic Alliance (MSDN AA) Program, Microsoft provides software for students and faculty in the embedded technology and design fields. Through the SPARK Your Imagination community program, the company is adding complementary offerings and extending them to the greater nonprofessional developer community to continue its dedication to the industry and future talent pool.

“Devices running embedded operating systems have seen explosive growth in the past few years, and the announcement today demonstrates our commitment to the future of the embedded community,” said Kevin Dallas, general manager of Windows Embedded Business at Microsoft. “Our continued investment supports future innovation and new idea generation that will ultimately contribute to our vision of smart, connected, service-oriented devices.”

SPARK Your Imagination Offer Availability
The initial list of hardware vendors participating in the program includes AdvanTech Co. Ltd., ICOP Digital Inc., Keith & Koep GmbH, VIA Technologies Inc. and Special Computing. SPARK Your Imagination offers will be available for purchase for program participants directly from this select list of hardware vendors. Program participants will receive the following:

  • Complete versions. A full version of Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R2 and Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition will be offered with select boards from participating hardware vendors and made available to academics and hobbyists at price points optimized for nonprofessional users. The offering is for noncommercial use.
  • BSP certification. As part of the SPARK Your Imagination program, Microsoft will begin offering Board Support Package (BSP) certification at no charge, which will now apply to both commercial and noncommercial use.

BSP Certification Becomes Free
As part of this announcement, Microsoft now offers Board Support Package (BSP) certification free to the entire Windows Embedded community, for both commercial and noncommercial use. Up to two test passes per BSP will be processed at no cost, should one need a retest; a fee of $500 will apply. Previously BSP certification cost $1,500. BSP certification guarantees compatibility with the designated Windows Embedded CE operating system requirements by Microsoft, thereby allowing OEMs to spend more time developing differentiating features for their devices and products.

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