02 December 2009

Microsoft showers students with software

First I found out about DreamSpark. As long as you are enrolled in a participating college or high school and have an email address ending in .edu, you can download the following full versions of MS software (and Product Keys if they are needed) completely free:
  • Visual Studio 2008 Pro
  • Visual Studio 2005 Pro
  • Expression Studio 3
  • SQL Server 2008 Developer
  • Windows 2008 R2
  • Windows 2008
  • Windows 2003 R2
  • Robotics Developer Studio (Standard I assume?)
  • Other free software (Visual Web Dev Express, SQL Express, etc.)
No media is available. Most of these are for both 32 and 64 bit systems. 2008 R2 is only for 64 bit. (EDIT: The next bit is only if you try to install it on a Mac.) Burning the 2008 R2 IMG file requires special software beyond a standard ISO burner. On my first go, I got the 1. 2. prompt. I found this blog, which explain the why and how to fix it. It's a lengthy process, but I muddled through.

Then I found out about The Ultimate Steal where you can get more software from MS on the CHEAP. As long as you have a .edu email address, you can download ISOs, get CD keys, and get shipped the actual media for the following:
  • Media for all of these costs an additional $13.00 per product
    • The media is NOT the full retail package
    • The media takes a long time to arrive (a month perhaps)

  • Windows 7 Pro Upgrade (32 or 64 bit) - $29.99
    • You do NOT get both 32 and 64 bit versions. So know what you need beforehand. 32-bit should work for any machine that can run Windows 7. 64-bit is better if you have the hardware for it.

  • Office 2007 Ultimate - $59.95
  • Visio 2007 Pro - $55.95
  • Non-English language packs for Office/Visio - $9.95 each (no media available)
The agreement reads that if they discover you are not an enrolled student, they can charge you the difference between what you paid and full price. Just a fair warning.

The download process is more annoying than at DreamSpark. There are 2 things you can download. One of them is a downloader for the ISO, and the other is for the setup files themselves, presumably for an in-place upgrade. I couldn't finish the latter to find out since I was running XP (and 32-bit to boot). Regardless, at least get the ISO and burn yourself a DVD to keep, just in case!

After you download the small .exe file, you have to run it to start the download of the actual product. The Digital River downloader caused a lot of problems on my machine. I got out of buffer errors and the entire machine became completely unstable, lost network connection, wouldn't start programs, etc. Then when I shut down, it blue screened. I believe this was due to AVG. After I turned the real-time scanner off, the problems seemed to stop. After that fiasco, I uninstalled AVG and put Windows Security Essentials in its place. Just to test, I redownloaded the entire thing post-WSE with no problems.

AVG has generally been solid for me, but I guess it just couldn't handle the strain of scanning my 12 M/s download. Thumbs down to AVG.

Anyway, hope this helps all you students out there.

No comments: