Microsoft gives development software free to (some) students

Microsoft announced a program called DreamSpark recently. DreamSpark is a program to give over $2,000 worth of Microsoft development software to students free!

The free software available to students includes:

  • Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition
  • Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition
  • XNA Game Studio 2.0
  • 12-month free membership in the XNA Creators Club
  • Expression Studio, which includes Expression Web, Expression Blend, Expression Design and Expression Media
  • SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition
  • Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition
  • Sql Server Developer Edition
  • Virtual PC 2007
  • Visual Basic 2005
  • Visual C++ 2005
  • Visual C# 2005
  • Visual J# 2005 and
  • Visual Web Developer 2005

This is a clever ploy by Microsoft to get students used to full-featured, integrated, rich IDEs at an early age, however, I think they need to make this program available at an even earlier age.

By the time most programmers to-be enroll in a university they have already selected their favourite development platform and the free development tools available to pre-university students are the very Free and Open Source development environments that Microsoft are trying to kill off with this initiative.

For now, DreamSpark is being rolled out in 11 countries (United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Germany, France, Finland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Belgium).

Anyone from Microsoft Ireland care to comment on when DreamSpark will be available in here?

7 thoughts on “Microsoft gives development software free to (some) students”

  1. I’d disagree that students pick their development language before college. I can’t remember anyone in my class in college that had done so but it would be good to see it come to Ireland.

    I feel the big issue for Microsoft is when students want to do some commercial work during the summer, for their final year project or for trying to start their own ventures. As students can’t charge as much as established firms, the cost of software licensing is very prohibitive.

    At the moment, Microsoft are shooting themselves in the foot. They’ll make their money on .NET related servers and hosting if the development tools are free for all (Or for everyone with a turnover below 100k).

  2. The open-source alternatives are free. I think it’s better not to get people hooked on that stuff. It sounds like people are getting free stuff, but it costs them more money in the long run, and I think it’s bad for the future of the Web in general.

  3. @Brian Good points.

    @WT – Sorry, I’m not quite following. Are you saying it is better not to get people hooked on Open Source or on the Microsoft Dev tools?

  4. @Tom

    Sorry… I didn’t word that well.
    I meant that it is better not to get people hooked on Microsoft products when there are FOSS alternatives.

    It sounds like people are getting something for free from Microsoft, but they are going to pay Microsoft for it down the road. It’s just a first dose.

  5. Tom,

    We are working to bring this into Ireland as soon as we can.

    The challenge in Ireland is that there is no central database of registered students – whereas that exists for many of the other countries that are in the launch group. In Ireland, student ID’s are held by the colleges rather than a central organisation. We have started discussions with individual colleges and in parallel with organisations such as the CAO to try and get basic student authentication in place. Once we have some form of electronic authentication mechanism in place, we should be able to bring the program onstream here.

    In the meantime, for those who want to get access to some tools right now (including those in second-level as Brian suggested), Microsoft already make available free versions of their dev tools known as the Express editions. Have a look at if you’re interested in this area.

    The real goal here has to be to raise the capability of future Irish developers in a global context, as well as encouraging more people to take on Computer Science/Engineering as a career. (The large drop in CS intake in recent years is a real issue not just in Ireland, but across most of Western Europe). Anything that helps that to happen is a good thing, and making commercial tools used by professionals available for free to Students is one (small) way of helping.


  6. …making commercial tools used by professionals available for free to Students is one (small) way of helping.

    I think students would be better off with things like Java, Eclipse, Python, etc., because there are no strings attached and they are cross-platform tools unlike the Microsoft tools which limit students.

  7. So Sean,
    Why wait for a national database? Get proactive and talk to every college.

    Get your teams to build an authentication system, where some colleges have an email format, let that be enough verification for those particular colleges.

    Find some other ways for other colleges to do it. If you can’t do this easily then you’re looking for too much information.

Comments are closed.