Microsoft Announces DreamSpark

Microsoft DreamSpark is a program that will ultimately provide worldwide, free access to our developer and design tools to students. The first phase of the program started today, Feb 19, and includes college students in 10 countries around the world, including the United States.

Microsoft has long had a commitment to programs and offerings that allow broad access to students studying and educators teaching information and computer technology subjects. Programs like MSDN Academic Alliance and Microsoft Learning IT Academy are aimed at ensuring the next generation of technologists has access to our software, learning material, and educational experiences.

DreamSpark continues that commitment by aiming to equip and empower the next generation of software professional by providing them access to tools that: Assist with their learning and help drive creativity among students We believe this program will encourage students to change the world for the better through software, and will help them be better prepared for their careers.

Some details of the program of note:

  • At this time, the offering will be limited to currently enrolled students. This means that we will look to active verifying students’ enrollment status before providing access to download the software.
  • Based on institutional feedback, we decided early to make use of and to publically support existing identity federations and standards as opposed to building our own. For United States students:
    • To implement this program, Microsoft has joined the InCommon Federation, and will default to using SAML-based attributes to verify students. This will enable Microsoft to securely and easily verify that a visitor is an eligible student by using each university as an authoritative source of information. We encourage institutions to consider joining InCommon to create secure, scalable, privacy-enhanced partnerships. InCommon participants interoperate using SAML, the OASIS open standard, and the open-source Shibboleth identity and access management system developed by the Internet2 community.
    • Microsoft has established a pilot partnership with JourneyEd to provide access to students at institutions who are not members of InCommon. JourneyEd is an authorized Microsoft reseller partner who uses National Student Clearinghouse and some direct to university connections to validate students for Microsoft as well as other software vendors.
    • Lastly, students can use their current International Student Identity Card (ISIC) to validate if they have one.
  • The list of products available through this offering will initially be: Visual Studio Professional, Expression Studio (which include Web, Blend, Design, and Media), XNA Game Studio, SQL Server Developer Edition, and Windows Server.
    • The licensing of these products to students will limit their use to non-commercial uses. (i.e. if the student intends on commercially using or distribute software built with these tools, they will need to purchase the appropriate commercial license(s).
    • The Windows and SQL Server products are for the students’ use only, these licenses don’t include CALs to access institutional servers.
  • We will continue to offer these products through traditional channels to institutions for use by faculty, staff, and for installation on institution-owned computers. We will also continue to offer the products for sales to institutions if they would like to provide the software to students outside of this program. At this time, this program does not alter the list of MS products for sale.
  • Our MSDN Academic Alliance and Microsoft Learning IT Academy programs will remain in place as the mechanism through which technology departments and educators can get access to a more broad set of our products for instructional use. I would be happy to direct you to more information on either of these programs.

Students can find out more information about the program here: Students: Administrators should go here: