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So basically I heard today that with a CJP card (a Dutch card for cultural activities etc.) I can download Visual Studio Professional from DreamSpark. It was all simple, I went to www.dreamspark.com, logged in, entered my card number, and all of a sudden I was able to download Visual Studio Professional Edition free of charge.

I'm just curious to know how this will affect anybody, mostly financially? Will I really have it free of charge? Will my school eventually pay the bill? I have some kind of feeling that Microsoft is not giving away such products completely for free.

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Yes, it's free, but you cannot use it professionally. –  paradroid Mar 3 '11 at 16:40
    
I'm just a student anyway, but that's nice to hear. –  pimvdb Mar 3 '11 at 16:43
    
They give it away hoping a new generation of users will adopt Microsoft Software as their standard, it pays for itself in the long run. I am sure there is an under the table deal in there somewhere. –  Moab Mar 3 '11 at 16:46
    
Having read the answers I understand that, but I was just wondering whether it will have a direct effect concerning costs for me / my school. –  pimvdb Mar 3 '11 at 16:48
    
They won't be billing you or your college at any point. As the others have stated, its purely Microsoft's way of "hooking" young programmers into their systems. –  peelman Mar 3 '11 at 18:49
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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Students can use the products free-of-charge. Microsoft doesn't change anybody for their use, as they know that giving away the product to students at a younger age will encourage them to continue to use/develop for/purchase Microsoft products in the future.

Just like the illegal drug dealers: "First one's free!" Once they (Microsoft) get you hooked, they can count on you for revenue in the future.

So, to directly answer your question, it doesn't cost Microsoft anything (except maybe the bandwidth for distributing the software), and it's in their best interest to have the DreamSpark program. I am taking advantage of it right now, and I couldn't be happier.

EDIT: Like the other answers/comments have posted, the tools you are provided with are strictly for non-commercial use.

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That's great to hear, I'm just some teenager creating free applications with free tools :) –  pimvdb Mar 3 '11 at 16:46
    
@pimvdb I actually have a BizSpark subscription from Microsoft enabling me to use just about every MS software available for free :D –  BloodPhilia Mar 3 '11 at 16:52
    
@pimvdb DreamSpark is available for high school students too. But I started the same way you did at the same age, so I have no use for it now that I'm in college. :-) –  Patches Mar 6 '11 at 21:54
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No, it's really gratis.

Well, no it's not. You see by providing you with "free" software, Microsoft hopes that you will like it and be ready to use it on your job. This way their products are more interesting to potential employers since more students know how to use them. So you could say that MS is investing into future when it provides you with "free" software.

As for University paying, there's a different program called MSDNAA where Universities can pay to MS for "free" software for their students. It usually has better selection of software than dreamspark.

Also, be sure to check the EULAs. They are probably limited in some way, like only for educational or non-commercial use or there may be a limit of activations for Windows Server and what not.

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Haha XD For everyone that doesn't know, Gratis = free. We Dutch love that, don't we!? ;) –  BloodPhilia Mar 3 '11 at 16:44
    
@BloodPhilia Actually, gratis isn't really free. It is a subset of free. In English, free has other meanings too so I chose gratis on purpose because this way I can avoid other meanings of free. Do note the quote marks around other uses of free. As can be seen from other comments, such extra steps are needed in this case. –  AndrejaKo Mar 4 '11 at 3:46
    
I see, but basically it is free of charge. I just meant 'free of charge' when saying 'free'. :) –  pimvdb Mar 4 '11 at 22:10
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