Lets' face it, development software can be expensive.
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For many would-be developers, the best development applications and platforms are simply cost-prohibitive. Small business owners, students and others who don't have the resources to buy best-of-breed solutions are often forced to curb their development projects or settle for lesser solutions.
In an initiative designed to inspire early adoption of its development tools, Microsoft has released Microsoft Dreamspark, a free development software suite for eager development novices. If eligible, Dreamspark doesn't just give trial access to popular development tools – participants receive full versions that can be used in accordance with the Dreamspark program guidelines.
So what's the catch? Eligibility. Dreamspark is only available to certain users and even then its use is subject to strict limitations. In certain circumstances, it's possible for small businesses to take advantage of Dreamspark, especially if your company is just starting to get its feet wet in the area of custom development.
- Students-only. The Dreamspark project is only available to students. Individuals who are attending an accredited high school, college or university in more than 124 countries are eligible. So if you or one of your staff members is also a student, you probably qualify for Dreamspark.
- Enrollment. Enrollment in the Dreamspark development program is done either through the school (high school) or by signing up via an email address that is provided by the institution (college/university).
- Software tools. Once you have enrolled in the program, you'll have access to a variety of Microsoft development solutions including Expression Studio 3, Windows Server Standard Edition, Visual Studio Professional Edition, SQL Server Developer Edition and other applications.
- Use restrictions. Microsoft's Dreamspark program is limited to educational use. Using the software to develop applications for sale is prohibited. But as a small business owner, you could potentially equip an intern with Dreamspark to create in-house tools and apps.
- Term limit. Unfortunately, you will only have access to Dreamspark while you are a student. When you graduate or terminate student status, your license expires – but you will still have access to anything you created with the programs while you were a student.