Wednesday, August 6

Free Software for Students!

How would you like a free copy of Microsoft Visual Studio 2008? How about the entire Microsoft Expression Studio? Not enough... how about Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and more?!

For once, something that sounds too good to be true really is this good and really is true. Starting today (or soon in some areas), students worldwide will be able to download our professional development and design tools for free! It's called DreamSpark and it is upon us.

Microsoft Corp. is giving students free access to its most sophisticated tools for writing software and making media-rich Web sites, a move that intensifies its competition with Adobe Systems Inc. and could challenge open source softwares popularity. The Redmond-based software maker said late Monday it will let students download Visual Studio Professional Edition, a software development environment; Expression Studio, which includes graphic design and Web site and hybrid Web-desktop programming tools; and XNA Game Studio 2.0, a video game development program. The company will also give away SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition and Windows Server Standard Edition.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said the companys past efforts to arrange educational discounts for these programs limited the number of students who ultimately could use them. DreamSpark, as Microsoft is calling the free software offering, opens up access to many more students. We give up some revenue, but we gain the fact that well get the feedback of these students, get more courses to incorporate our tools into the programs and get more startups where kids are familiar with Visual Studio, Expression Studio and SQL Server, Gates said in a phone interview. Its a brilliant strategic move on the part of Microsoft, said Chris Swenson, a software industry analyst with NPD Group. This is one of the core audiences you have to hit if you really want to make a difference in the rich Internet application market going forward. The programs are available now to more than 35 million college students. My university already provides a bunch of free software from Microsoft, but this will make things even better!

DreamSpark is simple, it's all about giving students Microsoft professional-level developer and design tools at no charge so you can chase your dreams and create the next big breakthrough in technology - or just get a head start on your career.

Who can get this right now?

We are kicking this off in 11 countries/regions, giving DreamSpark to millions of students in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Germany, France, Finland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Belgium. If you are not residing in one of the countries listed keep checking back, we will be adding more countries throughout the year.

Does that mean that I might not get in?

Possibly, if you are not residing in one of the countries listed, not attending an accredited university or not a member of one of the student organizations that we're connected with. But keep checking back, as we're working on adding more ways to verify your student status all the time.

What do I have to do to get this software? Not much really, just follow the steps below.

1) Go to the official Microsoft DreamSpark page at and select a free product.

2) Sign In with your Windows Live ID. If you don't have one, go get one here - pretty basic stuff.

3) Get verified as a student. The system is linked to schools and organizations around the world that can confirm student status. Simply choose your country and school, enter your info and hit submit.

4) Download your products. Now remember these are professional tools. This means they are pretty big files so make sure you have the bandwidth and space to bring them to your machine. We support the latest versions of both Internet Explorer and Firefox for your download.