Today Microsoft announced an amazing program for students to directly download developer software from Microsoft.  The Academic Developer Evangelism team has been working on this program for a long time, and we were under strict orders not to leak info about it.  The products being offered include: 

  • Visual Studio 2005
  • Visual Studio 2008
  • Windows Server 2003
  • SQL Server 2005
  • Expression Studio
  • Game Studio 2.0
  • XNA Creator's Club

Unlike the Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance (MSDNAA) which is a subscription program for higher ed STEM/Design students, DreamSpark allows ANY college student to download these platforms and tools directly from Microsoft.  Initially, the program will be available only to currently registered college students in ten countries (including the US).  It is anticipated that this will roll out more broadly to other countries and middle school and high school students later in the year.  The problem is that while there are some fairly straightforward methods for verifying that someone is a college student, it is much more difficult to do that for middle school  and high school students.

The portal page for DreamSpark is located at:  http://downloads.channel8.msdn.com .  The process is straightforward and reports are that the download speeds are very good ie: 900KB/sec depending on your pipeline.