I have been trying out Microsoft Robotics Studio ever since version 1.0. Despite the shortcomings of the product (compared to NXT-G), I like what Microsoft is trying to do in the robotics industry - i.e. create one 3-tier interface that is standardised and can be used to work with most of the robot vendors - including iRobot and LEGO MINDSTORMS.
Up to now, the biggest draw back in using MS Robotic Studio for me has been the lack of on-board support for the NXT. This means that if you want to give your NXT robot autonomy, you need to embed a Windows Mobile device (or a laptop) in the robot to control the NXT (via Bluetooth). However, it did not stop me from spending a lot of time and effort over the last 12 months learning to use it.
So when Microsoft announced the new CTP (Customer Technical Preview) version this week, I decided to try it out.
So far it seems to be pretty good.
The new version will be called 'Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008'. So they have moved away from the V1... V1.5... to 2008 to be consistent with the Visual Studio product family.
Incidentally, the new version is compatible with the new version of Visual Studio 2008 family - which is needed for it to run. It also works with the free version of Visual Studio 2008 (express edition)
The free download is available here.
There are a lot more new samples as well - the one that caught my eyes are:
- The XBox Controller Viewer sample shows support for use of interactive Silverlight-based UI
- Some really cool simulation samples
If you are Visual Studio developer, you would appreciate the new Visual Studio Project Wizards - rewritten to make it much simpler to create new service projects
directly from Visual Studio 2005 and 2008. The product also boasts faster compile time and the new DSS Log Analyzer (new debugging and monitoring tool that can visualize and analyze message exchanges between services sent between NXT and other nodes.
Why not give it a try? I must warn you it is a bit overwhelming at start if you are not used to the Microsoft developer tools - but given the popularity of the MS developer platform, it is definitely worth a try.