Microsoft Launches Online Student Avatar Playgrounds at

REDMOND, Wash. — Dec. 14, 2007 — Starting today, as part of Microsoft Corp.’s promotion the Ultimate Steal, university students from around the world will be able to create and customize their own digital alter egos, or avatars, in the Ultimate College All-Nighter and the Ultimate College Idol “playgrounds” at

“These competitions not only are designed to be fun; they offer students a way to engage technology at a very personal level,” said Alan Yates, general manager of Worldwide Public Sector Education at Microsoft. “We are committed to helping students access the products they need to be successful while in school and on into their post-graduate career, while giving them an opportunity to experience cutting-edge technology in a fun and exciting way.”

With the help of Voki technology, Oddcast Inc.’s next-generation speaking avatar platform for online communities, social networks and media properties, students are able to create their characters on, use their voice to create a speaking avatar story and then share their stories or songs in the online “playgrounds” on the site, publish them to other social networking sites such as Facebook, or e-mail them to their friends.

“We have seen that college students have a tremendous affinity for avatar-based content and applications, and Voki avatar technology enables Microsoft to engage them in a way that is meaningful and relevant,” said Adi Sideman, CEO of Oddcast.

Through Jan. 31, 2008, students can participate in two online avatar playgrounds:

  • The Ultimate College Idol competition gets students to take center stage, exhibiting their best — and possibly worst — talent. More important, students have a chance to flaunt their school spirit and use that as their inspiration.

  • In the Ultimate College All-Nighter competition, students can use their avatar to tell the world about their favorite all-nighter — whether they skipped sleep to cram, stayed out partying until dawn, or rode an adrenaline rush through a nonstop gaming session.

Visitors to the will be able to view and rate performances from both competitions, and creators of the avatars have the opportunity to enter into the Xbox Pick a Game sweepstakes, with winners taking home one of approximately 50 available Xbox 360 game titles. Winners of the sweepstakes will be announced at on Jan. 31, 2008.

“The Ultimate College All-Nighter helped me get through what seemed like a never-ending physics study session,” said Whitney Grey Hewitt, a Microsoft student partner at Clemson University. “It was helpful to hear that other people were going through the same things as me. It was a fun study break, and it gave me the extra energy boost and motivation I needed to finish my studying. My friends will definitely be into this.”

As part of Microsoft’s commitment to education, the company introduced The Ultimate Steal promotion in September at to offer eligible students Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 at a student price of $59.95 (U.S.). The Ultimate Steal promotion is available in Canada, France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States until April 30, 2008.

More information about the Ultimate College All-Nighter, the Ultimate College Idol competitions and The Ultimate Steal student promotion is available at

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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