Microsoft 'DreamSpark' Makes Software Free for Students


Microsoft has announced a software giveaway program targeted to college and high school students. "DreamSpark" makes available, at no charge, a number of development and design programs for download. The program is now available to more than 35 million college students in Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the United States.

In the next phase, the program will reach additional locations and be opened up to high school students around the world, potentially reaching up to 1 billion students worldwide. It will continue throughout the next year. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates was expected to share details with students and faculty at Stanford University as part of a U.S. and Canada college tour that launches today.

"We want to do everything we can to equip a new generation of technology leaders with the knowledge and tools they need to harness the magic of software to improve lives, solve problems and catalyze economic growth," Gates said. "Microsoft DreamSpark provides professional-level tools that we hope will inspire students to explore the power of software and encourage them to forge the next wave of software-driven breakthroughs."

Microsoft DreamSpark is available to all students whose studies touch on technology, design, math, science and engineering. The following software will be available as part of the program:

  • Developer tools, including: Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition, Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition and XNA Game Studio 2.0, as well as 12-month Academic membership in the XNA Creators Club.
  • Designer tools, including Expression Studio, with Expression Web, Expression Blend, Expression Design and Expression Media.
  • Platform resources, including SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition and Windows Server, Standard Edition.

The company said it expects in the next six months to expand Microsoft DreamSpark to college students in Australia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Japan, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, and additional countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe, as well as to high school students by the third quarter of 2008. Updates will be posted to

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About the author: Dian Schaffhauser covers high tech, business and higher education for a number of publications. Contact her at [email protected].

Proposals for articles and tips for news stories, as well as questions and comments about this publication, should be submitted to David Nagel, executive editor, at [email protected].

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.