DreamSpark – Free software for your students


I guess this will be pretty big news on the Internet. And if I've timed this right - and you're reading this just after I've blogged it - then you're one of the first to find out.


We have launched a programme called "Microsoft DreamSpark", which allows university and college students to download a range of free development and design software resources to help them in their studies. The suites available include Visual Studio (described as "the Swiss Army knife of computer programming"), which is the kind of toolset which can help you programme everything from a computer, to a mobile phone, or a web page. It also includes the major applications in the Expression design suite - including Expression Web, Expression Blend, Expression Design & Expression Media. And for development work, there's also SQL Server & Windows Server.

From today, these are available to more than 6.5 million FE & HE students. Last year's survey co-sponsored with Intellect, the British Computer Society, and The City University, London demonstrated that the "Knowledge Economy" (is that a Microsoft-ism?) is the fastest growing part of the UK economy, and there's a real need to ensure that students have the chance to get the technical skills they may need to operate within it.

Whilst it's easy to think that this will only be of interest to technical students, there's plenty of other areas affected - things like design, where digital design is one of the fastest growing areas; and the ability to manipulate and analyse masses of data seems to spread across most subjects.

Students don't need to get additional validation or accreditation from their university or college to do this download - they can download as long as they have an Athens ID (that's pretty standard for all university students and most college students) or an ISIC card. For more info on the verification of UK students, take a look at Ed Dunhill's blog.

There's more about this on Channel 8, and you can also read the press releases on PressPass

At the moment, this is available in 10 countries, including the UK.

Comments (8)

  1. Dominic says:

    By the way, we’ll be publishing some FAQs but to answer one question which seems to be arising:

    Q. Supposing we aren’t using Shibboleth, can our students still access the software?

    A. Yes, if the student’s institution isn’t listed, students should select “Eduserv Athens”, and enter their Athens ID.  Alternatively, they can use their ISIC card, or select ISIC card, and use the last 12 digits of their NUS Extra card.

  2. Neil Brooks says:

    OK this is great but can we install this s/w for free in a teaching lab when all users of that lab are registered students?

  3. Ray Fleming says:

    Hi Neil, you’re already covered for many of these if your uni is using either an MSDNAA subscription, or if your university has a Microsoft Campus Agreement (I am pretty sure that you’ll have a Campus Agreement!). More info on MSDNAA is available here: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/academic/default.aspx

  4. pete dabbs says:

    As a teacher in a sixth form college how can I get my hands on these resourses? My students wont have any form of student id either.

  5. Ray Fleming says:

    Hi Pete,

    For teachers, then the MSDNAA would be the answer – it’s included within the Schoos Agreement and Campus Agreement, or something you subscribe to separately. For your studets, ISIC would be one option, alternatively, take a look at Ed Dunhill’s blog for info about how other institutions can be included (but this is going to involve Shibboleth…)


    There’s also an institutional FAQ on the main DreamSpark site



  6. Jimmy Whitehouse says:


    I spent 7+ hours downloading the VS2008 first CD image yesterday on my broadband service.

    I could try this at the college, which has a faster connection, but the tutorial sessions only last for 1hr 45mins maximum, I do not think I will be able to finish a download session in the time available.

    I note that Microsoft says the CDs are available at a cost.  

    How do we get them?

  7. Ray Fleming says:

    Hi Jimmy,

    Have you tried to contact the DreamSpark support team directly? The details are all at:



  8. Nobody says:

    Can anyone help me out get the free software? I am not a student at a University…i’m 15 years old, what can I do?

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