Do You Qualify for Free Microsoft Software?

Microsoft has always been acutely aware that the best way to get people to start using its programming tools is to catch them young.  By the time a novice programmer has started down the route of Apache and PHP for web development, for example, they're unlikely to ever want to switch to ASP and .NET.  

Consequently, Microsoft runs a number of schemes to ensure that its target market, ie students with an interest in technology, can get started using Microsoft development products as easily and cheaply as possible.  And the current scheme, called Dreamspark, is about as good as it gets. 

The idea behind is as simple as it is attractive.  If you're a university or high school student, you can download full versions of things like Visual Studio 2010, Expression Studio v3, and even Windows Server 2008 R2, for nothing.  These are full products, that don't expire, and they come with a proper licence key.  

The only deal is that you have to be a bona fide student.  Also, there are rules about how you can, and can't, use the free products.  You can't use them for commercial purposes, for example.  

If you have an email account at a recognised educational establishment, ie something that ends with .edu or or for example, head on over to




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by Anonymous on 4. May 2010 - 14:41  (49067)

Not a whole lot of high school districts are in the program. It's largely colleges and universities, so don't be surprised if your high school district is not represented and not eligible.

by krish on 4. May 2010 - 12:49  (49064)

If you are from India you can get it with out email addresses, you can verify it offline. (I donno this is applicable for other countries or not)

1. Get a partner address (select Offline)

2. Show your College Id card and get your DVD

3. Go to the verification page - and enter the key on the DVD

4. Login using Windows Live Id

5. Download License Keys

If you have an email address as described above - Select online on the page mentioned in the first page.

by Anonymous on 2. May 2010 - 22:30  (48990)

I am curious. What about Homeschooled kids?

by Anonymous on 7. May 2010 - 3:37  (49255)

Their FAQ states the student must be in an accredited, certified school. So, apparently this excludes homeschoolers.

by DrBones on 3. May 2010 - 21:30  (49041)

In our area, home schooled kids are supported by the local school district, which ultimately bears the financial responsibility for a child's education. Contact your local school district (or use your existing contact) to find out about technology options and help.

My experience using the Ultimate Steal website that Microsoft maintains for students is that you can submit your information if you do not have a .edu email address to get approved to purchase the software. I would imagine dreamspark would have a similar policy.


by Anonymous on 3. May 2010 - 10:48  (49010)

If your school has some sort of site or campus licence agreement with Microsoft, then you might well qualify. Which is, I guess, another way of saying "I very much doubt it". Sorry.

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