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Microsoft offering developers free copies of Windows 8 Pro and Parallels Desktop (update)

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Microsoft QuickStart
Microsoft QuickStart

Microsoft really wants to make sure iOS and Mac developers are keeping Internet Explorer 10 in mind when working on their projects. To help bolster that effort, the company is offering developers a better deal than consumers are ever likely to see: a QuickStart kit that includes "free" (after $25 donation to one of three charities) copies of Windows 8 Pro and Parallels Desktop 8. Both pieces of software will be shipped on a USB stick at the end of April. Explaining the limited-time promotion, IE program manager Sandeep Singhal notes that developers frequently use virtualization to test browser compatibility across operating systems. He's also quick to admit that this strategy can prove costly for an individual or company working on their first app. "Costs to purchase software and licensing can be difficult if you’re that startup looking for your first big breakthrough," Singhal writes.

Microsoft notes that only a "limited supply" of QuickStart USB sticks are available, and considering the major savings on offer here, we wouldn't expect to see them last very long. If you're a developer, you can head over to Swish to place a pre-order. Not just anyone can take advantage though; you'll need some code know-how to successfully finalize an order. This admittedly simple verification method is the only tactic Microsoft is using to ensure the QuickStart kits make it to their intended audience. International devs are also eligible so long as they're willing to cough up a $16 fee. But seeing as you're getting a full Windows 8 Pro OEM license, it's still quite a deal.

Update: Microsoft wasn't kidding when it said supplies were limited. The QuickStart kit is now sold out.