Just as Dr. Frankenstein needed brains to bring life to his monster, robotic engineers need software to drive their creations. Apparently, Microsoft would very much like for its Robotics Developer Studio to be the dominant platform for robo apps, as the company is now giving away its newly updated RDS -- bundled with some non-robot-specific tools -- for free.
Microsoft RDS is a Windows-based environment that includes a lightweight asynchronous services-oriented runtime and a set of visual authoring and simulation tools for developing apps.
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Notably, the latest release of RDS comprises Microsoft CCR (Concurrency and Coordination Runtime) and DSS (Decentralized Software Services) Toolkit 2008, a set of .Net and Compact Framework class libraries and tools designed to help developers reduce the complexities of building loosely coupled concurrent and distributed applications. Said toolkit was previously available as a separate product. Perhaps the merging is a ploy to generate more interest in RDS. Sweetening the allure of downloading the RDS platform is the fact that it's now free of charge.
Whatever Microsoft's true rationale for melding CCR and DSS with RDS -- and offering the whole package for free -- robots are on the rise, at least according to a recent blog post by Microsoft Robotics manager Stathis Papaefstathiou. Robotics technology has "begun to transition along the path from a big, expensive, specialized, industrial level towards a future of a friendly, service-oriented, home and personal level," he writes. "But for the robotics market overall to reach a tipping point of sustainable scale, we're going to need more software that can help our community to create a broad and relevant range of scenarios for consumers."
A common platform for developing that essential robotics software is a must, Papaefstathiou notes, and surprise, surprise, he suggests that RDS fits the bill.