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Weekend Website #37: Microsoft Dreamspark

Posted by on April 2, 2011

Drop by every Friday to discover what wonderful website my classes and parents loved this week. I think you’ll find they’ll be a favorite of yours as they are of mine.

free microsoft software


High School and up


Math, science, engineering technology


Microsoft Dreamspark


Microsoft has a great program for student techies. It’s called Dreamspark. It offers twelve professional-level Microsoft-brand developer, designer, and gaming software to students all over the world–80 countries so far–for FREE. It’s aimed at high school and college, but any students qualify.

Microsoft wants to focus on the areas of technical design, technology, math, science, and engineering, but it really doesn’t matter what classes you’re taking right now, just as long as you’re a current student in a verified, accredited school and use the tools in pursuit of advancing your education in one of these areas. Though the site concentrates on the twelve software programs shown below, even more are offered on Microsoft‘s main site:

  • SQL Server 2008 Express Edition
  • Visual Studio 2008 Express Edition
  • XNA Game Studio 2.0 (with 12-month Creators Club Student trial membership)
  • Virtual PC 2007
  • Visual Basic 2005 Express
  • Visual C++ 2005 Express
  • Visual C# 2005 Express
  • Visual Web Developer 2008 Express
  • Visual Basic 2008 Express
  • Visual C++2008 Express
  • Visual C# 2008 Express

All you do is set up an account, get verified as a bona fide student and start downloading.

Curious? Here are their FAQ’s:

About DreamSpark™

What is DreamSpark?

What Microsoft products does this site offer?

Where is DreamSpark available?

What do I need in order to access, download, and use the Microsoft software I get on DreamSpark?

Can I view my download history from DreamSpark?

Can DreamSpark send me updates or will Microsoft tell me when new software becomes available to download?

What’s the difference between the Microsoft software on DreamSpark and the Microsoft products I can buy in the store?

How do I get technical information on using the Microsoft software?

Are the beta or full-featured versions of the Microsoft software available on the DreamSpark site?

Are there any limitations on the way I use the Microsoft tools I get through DreamSpark?

How can I provide feedback or request technical support?

I’ve always been impressed with Adobe’s educational discounts, but Free is better. The only catch: Microsoft’s offerings are for serious students of IT.

For more information, check out the Dreamspark website and this article from James at Technology for the Masses.

Microsoft Dreamspark: Students can jumpstart their learning with free software.

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