Saturday, March 22, 2008

DreamSpark – experiences
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Hello again, today I’m trying to download the latest Microsoft developer tools from Microsoft DreamSpark. DreamSpark allows students to download some software for free (more info here).

Luckily I’m very enthusiastic about the concept of giving software away for free to students, because this surely isn’t the best download experience I’ve ever had.

First things first, the verification procedure wasn’t that straight forward. If you’re lucky, your school or university participates in the DreamSpark program. In that case, you can use your student ID credentials (e.g. user name and password) provided by your school. Actually, a lot of schools are already participating (in Belgium too). If you aren’t lucky (like me) you will have to prove you’re an eligible student in another way. You will have to buy an ISIC card, an International Student Identity Card (something about eligibility for these cards: here). In Belgium you can get such a card at Connections (a travel agency for students) for 9 Euros.

When you finally are a verified student you can start downloading software and get your license keys. Getting a license key works fine. Downloading your ISOs can be done in two ways, with your browser (certainly not recommended for a multiple gigabytes download) or with a download manager. Not the download manager of your choice, but an ActiveX control of their choice. I simply do not like it!

The download speed was the biggest problem I had when I started writing this post (it was downloading at less than 200KBps), but now it’s running at 400KBps so I will be able to try VS2008 today!

Overall, DreamSpark is still a fantastic project, but a few little changes to the website would certainly improve the user experience!