A Student's Guide to Microsoft DreamSpark

One of the benefits of being a college student is that you get discounts on lot of stuff especially computer software.

Almost every software vendor offers educational discounts but Microsoft took that idea to the extreme when they introduced the DreamSpark program that allows students worldwide to download certain Microsoft tools for free.

microsoft dreamspark

Am I eligible for the DreamSpark program?

If you are attending an accredited high school or college in any of these 124 countries, you are eligible for the DreamSpark program.

How do I enroll in the DreamSpark program?

High School students must obtain an access key for DreamSpark through their school administer, who in turn will receive the keys when they first register the high school with DreamSpark.

If your high school is not registered with DreamSpark, the school administrator can fax copies of the accreditation certificate to Microsoft and, after verification, Microsoft will send your school a set of Access Keys for distribution among the enrolled students.

The DreamSpark program is open to home schooled students as well but in this case, you parents must sign up through the same program that high school administrators sign up with. You can also use DreamSpark if you obtain an ISIC card to prove that you are a student.

College and University students have it slightly easier. Just select your country followed by the name of your college and verify your credentials using the email address that has been assigned to you by the institute.

Most colleges are listed directly on DreamSpark, which will make your signup very easy. If you college is not listed, check the Options page which tells you who to contact about registration for your country.

What software programs do I get with DreamSpark?

Once you join the DreamSpark program, you will have to option to download the following Microsoft software tools for free :

  • Expression Studio 3
  • Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition
  • Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition
  • SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition
  • .. and more - see full list.

Additionally, DreamSpark also offers free ebooks, up to 22 hours of free e-learning courses on Microsoft technologies and 1 free Microsoft certification exam.

Will Microsoft ship the software DVDs?

Unlike MSDN or TechNet, Microsoft won’t ship you DVDs but you can download the software installers from the DreamSpark website itself. If you are located in India, you can also walk into your nearest Aptech or NIIT center and request the software on a DVD.

Ok, but isn’t there a catch?

Microsoft licenses the software to you for educational use. This means that you can use the software without restriction for school assignments or personal projects. If you write or design something that you wish to sell, however, you need to purchase a standard licensed copy of the Microsoft software before you sell your product.

Is the software like a trial that will expire when I graduate?

No! The software from DreamSpark is the full version, and according to Microsoft, “You may continue to use the Software you obtained prior to termination of your student status subject to the terms of this license.”

This is taken from the license agreement that you accept before you download the software, so you can be sure that any software that you download via DreamSpark will be free for personal and non-commercial use forever.

When you graduate, however, your DreamSpark membership will terminate so you won’t have access to new software release but the software that you may have already downloaded will continue to work.

Should you have any more questions related to DreamSpark, please ask in the comments section.

Amit Agarwal

Amit Agarwal

Google Developer Expert, Google Cloud Champion

Amit Agarwal is a Google Developer Expert in Google Workspace and Google Apps Script. He holds an engineering degree in Computer Science (I.I.T.) and is the first professional blogger in India.

Amit has developed several popular Google add-ons including Mail Merge for Gmail and Document Studio. Read more on Lifehacker and YourStory


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