Microsoft’s announcement of DreamSpark

by KarriD on March 05, 2008 11:32am

My name is Karri Dunn, I am joining the Port25 team focusing on developer interests.  I am a 10 year veteran at Microsoft.  I’ve always been in dev or IT Pro groups at Microsoft and have participated in many programs, offerings, and product launches.  As an example, I was part of the first Imagine Cup (a worldwide student developer contest sponsored by Microsoft) and to see what the students developed was mind blowing.  I’m most fascinated by the cool stuff for developers and students like XNA, Photosynth, etc.  

The primary topic I want to touch on today is Microsoft’s announcement of DreamSpark  -- a program to provide students with Microsoft dev and designer tools for free . . .

While Microsoft has been supportive of students through different programs over the years including current offerings such as the  Imagine Cup and MSDN Academic Alliance (MSDNAA – a program providing universities with Microsoft developer tools and products for their students), it is great to see our efforts evolve to support students directly.  Yes, the developer express editions are available to everyone (express editions are the base versions of the products), but DreamSpark provides the full developer tools and designer products to students for them to learn and explore. See for all the details.

Why am I so interested in this program???  As I mentioned, I attended the first Imagine Cup Awards several years ago in Barcelona at Microsoft TechEd Europe (TechEd is Microsoft’s annual IT Pro and Developer conferences taking place in several geos around the world).  The Imagine Cup Contest was incredibly inspiring and even to this day when I talk with people about what the students created, it blows their minds.  Here are a couple of examples:

Students from India who created a program using smart card technology so hospitals could verify patients and ensure the patient’s medical chart were in fact belonging to that patient. 

Students in Singapore created a grocery store website, software app, and hardware.  Shoppers could build a grocery list from home or office on a website and then download the list onto the shopping cart/basket display once in the store. Carts/baskets were equipped with scanners so shopper could check off items on list.  The software was also fitted with a coupon feature – when a shopper scanned an item from the list and place the item in their cart, a competitor coupon would show up on the scanner incenting the shopper to purchase the competitors product instead of the product they’d placed in their cart. There were also check out features speeding up the checkout process.

These are real examples of why DreamSpark is important to the Port25 community and to the future of open source and Microsoft.  Microsoft Expression Web (one of the products available) supports PHP as well as ASP.Net.  XNA Game Studio will enable students to get involved in the hundred-plus-and growing shared and open source game projects on Codeplex.   It is one more step toward greater participation.

Below, I want to call out a couple cool aspects of DreamSpark (see links for complete details.

·         Partnerships help make it better:  International Student Travel Confederation (ISTC) The ISTC is a non-profit organization that aims to secure and inform students of cheap or tax-free travel. Working in more than 100 countries around the world, the ISTC’s mission is to increase international understanding through the promotion of travel and exchange opportunities among students, young people, and the academic community. ISIC and Microsoft are working together to offer DreamSpark as an additional benefit for purchasing and owning and International Student Identification Card.

·         Open source interoperability helps make it better too:  Microsoft is partnering with Shibboleth, an open source authentication and authorization infrastructure product, which can be used for student verification.  This product is one way in which Microsoft is verifying student status and eligibility to receive Microsoft DreamSpark program benefits.  Shibboleth is an existing middleware solution that is widely used by universities.  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. 


Details of the DreamSpark Program:

The Microsoft DreamSpark program, available at, launched in 10 countries - Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.  For more information on the products and how the program will expand to high school students, please visit PressPass for more details.

Products: Students will be able to download any of the following software products via Channel 8:

Microsoft developer tools

·    Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition

·    Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition

·    XNA Game Studio 2.0

·    12-month free membership in the XNA Creators Club

Microsoft designer tools

Expression Studio, including:

·    Expression Web

·    Expression Blend

·    Expression Design

·    Expression Media


Microsoft platform resources

·    SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition

·    Windows Server, Standard Edition



·         Keep in mind, software is being provided to students for non-commercial use in particular academic activities but can be used on CodePlex and Imagine Cup.

If you’re a student, come back and let me know how you use DreamSpark to learn, create, and


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