Since its introduction in 2001, students and educators around the world have utilised DreamSpark to support and advance their learning and skills through technical design, technology, maths, science and engineering activities. This software equips them with the tools they need to succeed during their academic experience and the skills they will need after graduation.

DreamSpark can also be used by educators  as they have access to the top technical development and design products on the market just like their students. Teachers can teach classes on web development using Expression Studio.

Students today get excited about seeing technology in action, and not just simply learning the fundamentals. With access to products like XNA and Visual Studio, educators can build exciting applications that demonstrate the power of technology.

Here’s a helpful Q & A for you to learn about what DreamSpark is and how it can be used.  

Q. What is Microsoft DreamSpark™?

A. Microsoft DreamSpark ™ is a program that provides no-cost access to Microsoft designer and development tools for verified students around the world, to support and advance their learning and skills through technical design, technology, maths, science and engineering activities. This program equips tomorrow’s developers with the professional tools to inspire and create today.

The program has two primary goals:

  1. Give no-cost access to Microsoft products and platforms: DreamSpark subscriptions give students access to virtually every Microsoft product and technology, helping ensure they have the right technology choices for all current and future educational opportunities.
  2. Deliver outstanding value: These subscriptions give outstanding value through inexpensive cost of membership, and convenient management of licenses on a per-user basis, removing the complexity of licenses across multiple environments.

dreamSpark


Q. What is DreamSpark Premium?

A. Advanced software applications can take years to develop, a costly investment that is often reflected in the purchase price. Microsoft makes these highly desired, advanced programs available to students far below the retail cost of any one program in the list. With this subscription, students can access a free online portal through e-academy that provides them with instant and easy access to all DreamSpark titles while also ensuring that institutions will not need to add internal resources or overhead to manage the DreamSpark software program.

Q: What are the benefits of the DreamSpark program?

A: Much more than a software subscription, membership includes:

  1. DreamSpark software subscription that includes Microsoft platform, server and developer tools software as well as betas, new releases and tech support.
  2. Special license rights allowing a department to install DreamSpark software on any number of departmental lab machines for instructional and research purposes.
  3. The ability for students taking at least one credit course offered by the member department to install the software on their personal machines for use in coursework and personal development projects.
  4. Instant online access to all DreamSpark content.
  5. No-charge access to e-academy’s License Management System (ELMS) for automated distribution of software and product keys to eligible users via the Web.

Q: What happened to Developer AA?

A: Developer AA isn’t gone—it’s simply been renamed to DreamSpark Premium. All of the titles that were previously available to you are still available. If your school had a Developer AA subscription through MSDNAA, you’ll continue to access software titles as you did before.

Q: What happened to Designer AA?

A: Helping students who want to be designers is critical, but we wanted to find a way to make this easier for institutions, so we have changed up the program. Instead of Designer AA membership, institutions can purchase a new DreamSpark membership that gives them access to all of Microsoft’s development and designer tools. If you currently have a Designer AA membership, don’t worry. You can continue to enjoy those benefits until your membership expires. When it’s time for you to renew, we’ll work with you to get you set up with a new DreamSpark membership.

Product Mapping

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Q: What software will be included in the DreamSpark program?

Software for Production Use

DreamSpark                  

DreamSpark Premium

Operating Systems

Windows Client

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Windows Server

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Developer & Design Tools

Visual Studio Professional

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Visual Studio Premium

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Visual Studio Ultimate

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Expression

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Windows Embedded

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Applications

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Visio

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Project

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OneNote

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Servers

SQL Server

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BizTalk Server

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SharePoint Server

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Q: What is the benefit of the DreamSpark program for educators?

A: DreamSpark will give educators a chance to learn new technologies and develop courses that will excite students in the classroom. It will also help educators expand their personal and professional portfolios and enhance classroom objectives.

Q: Why do educators need free developer and design tools?

A: By providing the latest professional developer, design, and gaming software to educators at no charge, educators will have a unique opportunity to motivate and engage students and support those that wish to pursue a career in programming or design after graduation

Q: What will students be able to do with this software?

A: Students using these tools will be limited only by their own imaginations and time.  Use of developer tools in engineering, maths, science and technology activities allow students to program everything from a cell phone to a robot or to create their own Web page. Students will also be able to invent compelling new gaming content and make their dream game a reality by porting their creations to their Xbox 360 console. Design tools allow students to vividly bring their creative visions to life in vibrant new Web site designs and more effective digital content, including animation, imagery and photography. And platform offerings deliver a security-enhanced and reliable environment, reliable and manageable environment for students to more quickly turn ideas into reality.

Availability

Q. When and where will Microsoft DreamSpark be available?
A. Today, Microsoft DreamSpark is available to university students in 137 countries.

Q: How do students download software?

A: Visit www.dreamspark.com and follow the three steps to get verified located on the home page.

Q. Is this program available to ALL students? What are the limitations?

A. Yes. The focus of the program is technical students, but it is open to anyone looking to explore the possibilities of Microsoft’s development and design tools. The only limitation is students are only licensed for learning and research.

Q: Why don’t you provide physical copies of software? 

A: Providing software by download does not involve the production costs of creating physical copies, so it works well with software being provided at no charge. 

Q. How many students total will this offer be available to eventually and how did you come up with this number?

A. According to UNESCO, there are more than one billion university and high school students in the world today.

Q: Why don’t you provide physical copies of software?  Are you trying to prevent non-broadband students from receiving the software?

A: Providing software by download does not involve the production costs of creating physical copies, so it works well with software being provided at no charge.  Microsoft is not trying to prevent non-broadband students from receiving the software.  On the contrary, we hope to eventually provide this no-charge software benefit to all students, in all countries.  It will take a concerted, cooperative effort on the part of both Microsoft and academic institutions to connect to areas without existing infrastructure of student databases and server technologies.

Cost

Q: Why are you giving software away?

A: In giving tech tools away without charge to students around the world, Microsoft is providing future developers and designers with professional-grade tools to create and expand their skills.  We believe that it is very important to equip students with tools that will help to foster their education in technology.  Such tools would typically be beyond the reach of these students even at very low prices. 

Q. What is the commercial value of this software?

A. This software is being provided to students for non-commercial use in particular academic activities.  Pricing for commercial uses varies by channel and the associated rights, but products for non-academic use by non-students would typically be hundreds of dollars or more. 

Student Identity Verification

Q:  How do you ensure that a student is really a student?

A:  Microsoft verifies students by using various reputable student databases to confirm student identities.  Students will choose the identity provider that maintains the database (i.e. their school, organization, or other academic-based group) that will confirm their student status.  The Microsoft system will connect with the identity provider, and the student will supply his or her credentials to the identity provider for verification.  Microsoft will then receive confirmation from the identity provider as to whether the student is a current student.

Q:  If students are receiving the full professional software versions, then can’t professionals just find a college student to obtain the software license from?

A:  All students receiving free software through this program will need to accept an end user license agreement (EULA) that specifies that the software will only be used by the student for non-commercial use to support and advance their STEM-D learning and skills.  Students will only have rights to one single-user license per verified identity.  If a student were to obtain a valid single-user license and give that license to a non-student that would be in violation of the EULA and the student would no longer be eligible to continue to use the software or to obtain other software under the program. 

Q:  Why do students need to sign-in?

A:  The sign-in process allows students to get verified initially once and bypass the verification step for future visits to DreamSpark.  Once verification is completed and if they are signed in, students will be brought directly to the download page.  All students will keep their eligibility for 12 months and will have the option to renew after 12 months. 

Q: Will you be collecting student information, and using it for other purposes?

A: Microsoft is not collecting any student information from third-party identity provider databases, other than binary notification of whether the person is a student or not.  When students seek to download the software, they will be asked to verify their student status with a verification source of their choice, and the verification source will request the student’s credentials in order to verify their student status.  The credentials students provide to the verification source are not viewed or tracked by Microsoft – that is, the student is verified externally by their chosen verification method and not by Microsoft, and any exchange of sensitive credentials with the verification source will be between the student and the verification source.  Microsoft will store the general location of students, which assists with download bandwidth efficiencies.

Q: Is there an approved list of universities? Are only students enrolled in brick and mortar universities included or are online students as well? (i.e. what about 2-year or community colleges)

A: As this is a cooperative effort with local communities, we are working with local entities within each country to determine who the universities are.

Q: Are only undergraduates qualified or can graduate students download DreamSpark?

A: Graduate students are welcome to participate.

Q:  Why are university administrators being asked to share their student database?

A:  This program is designed to give students Microsoft technology tools at no charge as long as their student status can be verified.  University administrators hold the keys to enable verification.  If administrators are willing to cooperate and enable their students to verify themselves against the university database, universities will be able to equip them with free professional-level tools. 

Q:  How can univeristy administrators offer this benefit to the students in their school/country?

A:  This benefit is available to all students around the world.  However, this program requires all students to have their status verified by an authorized verification source.  Academic institutions or governments may already have all the requirements necessary to verify their students.  Microsoft can help prepare student databases to use the program.  Once institutions determine they have a reliable database of student information, we can help them become an identity provider (IDP). 

Verification Technology

Q: Why is Microsoft using Open Source Software (OSS) as part of the student verification process?

A: Microsoft is pleased to be able to use Shibboleth, an open source authentication and authorization infrastructure product, as one solution for verifying students so they can receive Microsoft DreamSpark program benefits.  Shibboleth is an existing middleware solution that is widely used by universities, and federations using Shibboleth software exist in many countries.  Its use provides access to a network of institutions and students, enabling immediate connection to over 10 million students, with a path for other academic institutions to sign up.  Shibboleth also enables sites to manage the authorization decisions permitting the sharing of specific information between an identity provider database and an external party (such as Microsoft) – such as binary notification of whether the site user is a student or not, without releasing other student information. 

Competitive

Q:  Are you trying to flood the market with developer tools?

A:  Microsoft is putting developer and design software in the hands of verified students to support and advance their learning and skills through technical design, technology, math, science and engineering activities. The student developer population has been growing recently, with many developers coming from fields of study other than computer science.  Even non-technical majors can benefit from using these products.  We want students to grow their capabilities by providing them with developer and designer tools that expand the limits of their imagination.  We’re putting tools in the hands of students that they would typically not be able to afford. 

Q:  Are you trying to put other developer software companies out of business?

A:  This program targets students and educators, who represent a fraction of all software developers and designers. Software under this program is only available for non-commercial use to support and advance students’ academic work involving science, technology, engineering, math and technical design activities.

Q:  Are you embracing the “free software” model by offering development and design tools to students at no cost? Will you make it free for all?

A: Our design, development and platform tools offer significant benefits for developers, customers and partners alike. Our goal with Microsoft DreamSpark is to ensure that today’s students have even greater access to the tools they need to succeed in their studies and prepare themselves for today’s increasingly competitive business world.

Q: Is this just a ploy to keep up/compete with open source proliferation in education?

A: No, Microsoft is not offering students free access to developer and design tools to compete against open source software. This program is targeted specifically at students to provide them with access to the software tools used in business today and help extend the skills of the next generation of developers and designers.  The company has and will continue to make strategic bets on the Windows platform while continuing to support interop and other open source initiatives and partnerships.

Microsoft products offer tremendous value that is perceived by the marketplace and by our customers. 

Microsoft is a platform company committed to building technologies that empower communities of developers and partners to deliver compelling software solutions to customers. This approach is reflected in the size and health of the technology ecosystem in which Microsoft participates, including millions of developers around the world who have created a vast array of applications using Microsoft platform technologies such as Microsoft Windows, Windows Live, Microsoft Office, .NET platform, Microsoft Windows Server, and Microsoft Xbox.  Microsoft’s open source strategy is focused on helping customers and partners be successful in today's heterogeneous technology world. This includes increasing opportunities for developers to learn and create across both community-oriented open source and traditional commercial approaches to software development.

Q: Is this the first step in Microsoft lowering its prices (possibly even free) to compete against open source?  What are the next products that might be included in this program?

A: Microsoft products offer tremendous value that is recognized by the marketplace and by our customers.  This program is targeted specifically at students in connection with their academic studies to help prepare them as the next generation of developers and designers.  DreamSpark is the latest in a series of offerings for students just as MSDNAA (Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance), Imagine Cup, and other offerings Microsoft provides to academia.  Additional developer tools may be made available to students in the future under this same program, but we do not foresee that other major customer groups or products will be significantly impacted by this program.

Q:  Do any other companies offer a free software package like this?
A:
Yes, other software vendors like Adobe and IBM have offers in market to make software available to students at low costs or no charge. However, we believe that Microsoft is leading the way in providing such a comprehensive offering available to the student market at no charge.