DreamSpark Advantage

Microsoft has this program where they give free software to college students. It is called DreamSpark. Recently I signed up for a community college course to help brush up on my Java coding skills. So I figured I would take advantage of this offer. I wanted to get a free copy of Visual Studio 2005 Professional. Yeah I have a licensed copy of this tool at work. But I want a copy for my home computer. This thing retails for almost $700 on Amazon. Even the upgrade version is over $400. Free sounded like too good an offer to pass.

I went to the DreamSpark web site. You have to verify that you are actually enrolled in a college program. The instructions said to choose your college from the drop down. Mine was not listed. Oh no. The fine print said that even if your college is not listed, you can use a third party to validate that you are enrolled. I was willing to jump through such hoops for a $700 software package. I went to JourneyEd, which Microsoft uses to validate non participating colleges. They had me “order” a validation even though it did not cost me anything. I emailed them a scanned copy of my acceptance letter to my college.

The next day I got an email back from JourneyEd stating that they approved my request. I return back to the Microsoft site and got verified. I chose Visual Studio 2005 Professional and started the download. There were two files to download. I assume these files correspond to the two CDs that come with the real product. The next day the download was complete. I did not want to burn these images to real CDs. So I downloaded another unsupported Microsoft utility which mounts the ISO images files and makes them look like they are actual CDs in a CD drive.

I tried a couple times to install Visual Studio 2005 Professional. Each time I chose a custom install and only chose those components I really wanted. And each time the install bombed in the middle stating an install file was missing. I don’t know whether there is a bug in their install program, or whether the images they provided were bad, or if the virtual CD utility I was using was buggy. The end result was that I could not get the software to install.

Hey. We are talking about $700 worth of software here. I was not about to give up that easily. I decided instead to choose another download. This time I chose Visual Studio 2008 Professional. Even though we are not using that version at work yet, I figured it was close enough. The install went fine. Now I got a C++, C#, and Visual Basic development environment. I also installed all MSDN documentation I would even need. Thank a million Microsoft.