This is a bit disappointing but forseeable. There was a language developed last year for kids to use called Kid’s Programming Language (KPL, later renamed Phrogram). It looked exactly like Visual Basic .NET minus a lot of features. They received a HUGE amount of press and marketing from Microsoft, such as being featured on their Coding4Fun site. It was Windows-only, not open source. It was developed by a couple of programmers at a private consulting company (not by educators or learning specialists). They didn’t guarantee that it would even remain free to use, and sure enough, now they charge money to use it, and charge extra to use their “educators forum.”
Now another developer has developed a language for kids named Leopard. It looks like BASIC or logo minus a lot of features. You lay out parameters line by line instead of on one line:
window window title Sunburn Central window size 563 295 end
And sure enough, despite being still early in development, Windows-only, non open-source, and charging money to be able to compile programs with it, it is already receiving a lot of publicity from Microsoft, including an interview by Robert Scoble.
The rule seems to be that Microsoft will promote a 3rd party language (non-kids tools included) if it is strictly Windows-only, AND doesn’t compete with their own programming tools, AND ideally isn’t open source. So for example the IronPython language (which they own), yay, but the boo and nemerle languages, nay. The latter are written to work in both .NET and mono, are free and open source, and might be viewed as competitors with VB.NET or C# because they are statically typed and fast like they are. Other programming tools which are designed for kids such as Scratch and Squeak’s Etoys also don’t qualify because they are not Windows-only. Microsoft has become more committed to open source lately, but a recent review of their efforts suggests there is much room for improvement.