Written by Megan Benjamin

Heading out with the masses for Black Friday? Cool. But if you feel like staying in and geeking out all day instead of fighting over this year’s equivalent of Tickle Me Elmo, my oh my have we got a treat for you. Don’t shop ‘til you drop; get yourself some free Microsoft software instead. And by the way, we’re not talking free beta, subpar software either; this is the real deal!

Think of it like your early holiday gift to yourself. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

1. Get Verified. If you’re a student (or an educator) at a legit academic institution, be it a high school, community college, vocational/trade school, or a university, you qualify. Microsoft doesn’t care if your school has 50,000 students or 50; they are committed to helping all students, all over the world, to gain the design and developing skills they will need for post-college life. Just give Microsoft some proof that you’re hitting the books regularly, and they’ll hook you up. To get verified, go here. Chances are, your school will be among the schools listed. In case your school isn’t there, you can hit up the Microsoft help desk. Click here for high school students and here for college/university programs. Your student verified status lasts 12 months with the option to renew thereafter. 

2. Windows Live Yourself.This step is super easy. Just set up a Windows Live ID so you don’t’ have to bother reverifying your student status every time you want to download some free software. And hey, while you’re at it, go ahead and Elf Yourself, too. 'Tis the season.

3. Download Your Heart Out. Go wildThere are no limits to how many different programs you can download. (Nor are there any time constraints. So long as you’re a verified student, you can download software all year long.) All you need to get rolling on your quest is a PC with a Windows OS and an Internet connection! 

If you have other questions, see if you can’t get answers hereHappy Thanksgiving and happy downloading to all!