It's not often you can put "Microsoft" and "free" in the same sentence, but they do do (no jokes) surprisingly a lot which is free. Students have been able to use DreamSpark for a while now, but it's still not very well publicised. I wrote about DreamSpark back at the very beginning and how it doesn't provide a huge amount, and that it could offer more. Even though there have been no changes to the software they provide, some students may well still benefit.
If DreamSpark wasn't there, you'd have to pay for them (naturally), and here are the costs:
- Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, Professional Edition Amazon says: $450.00 brand new
- Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, Professional Edition Amazon says: $669.99 brand new
- Microsoft SQL Server 2005, Developer Edition Amazon says: $65.60, but second-hand
- Microsoft Expression Studio Amazon says: $399.99, brand new
- Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition Amazon says: $899.99, but second hand
Microsoft provides these 5 products, worth just under $3,000, to students for absolutely free. Not only does it provide these, it throws in already free tools, such as the XNA Game Studio 2.0 and all of the Visual Studio Express editions. Some of these tools could be vital to inspiring student minds, getting them hands-on with developing and creating applications and games.
All you need is a Windows Live ID, which most people have, and your university/college login details at hand. The rest has already been done by your institution and Microsoft, linking the two, to verify who you are and what you are entitled to.
Not only that, we've heard from all over the place (primarily the gods at LiveSide, and they've really been going to town on their coverage) of the new Wave 3 of Windows Live, which I reported a couple of weeks ago, including a sneak preview at the pre-release version of Messenger.
Chris Jones wrote on the Live Wire blog today that the Wave 3 beta's will be open to the public by the end of today. Considering I downloaded these last night courtesy of LiveSide's heads-up, I've been having much fun with these new versions. If you can't download yet, feel free to take a look at the some of the Beta 1 versions of the next wave of the Windows Live suite, until the download links open up.
Update: download links are up at http://download.live.com.