Robots addicts, enthusiasts, hobbyists, educators or students now have a good news, in a way that Microsoft has released Windows-based, robotic-platform-agnostic Microsoft Robotics Studio (MRS) CTP (community technical preview) November 2006 for free download. Microsoft Robotics Studio offers visual, services-based platform for programming robots or create robotics applications in the real and virtual world, and intends to be software platform for the robotics community that can be used across a wide variety of hardware, is applicable to a wide audience of user and can be used for development of a wide variety of applications. Commercial or business developers that intend to use the MRS for commercial purposes or use the programming tool to control and drive robot have to license the runtime for $399 per seat.

Intends as a software platform for everything robotics, MSR also comes “manifests” or programming profiles or programming interface for a number of popular commercial robots and robot kits such as LEGO Mindstorms NXT, KUKA Robotic Arms, and iRobot’s Roomba. MSR also supports high quality virtual visual simulation environment that uses the Ageia Technologies PhysX engine. If you don’t know where to get start, or have a hard time to program or remote control the robots, MSR even supplies a set of useful technology libraries services samples to help developers get started with writing robot applications.

Microsoft Robotics Studio can be downloaded from here (now Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio). For more information, tutorials, news and faq, visit MSR homepage (redirected to downloads). Download Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 4 from Microsoft Download Center.