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Before you get too excited this isn't a situation where I am giving away any software. It also is not a promotion or a scam, it is about legitimate sites and programs that offer Microsoft software and tools for various time periods. I thought this post would be useful to people with personal projects and students who are choosing what software to use for their final project as well as students entering the upcoming Teleios Code Jam competition which has highlighted bonus points for using specific technologies. I am focusing on Microsoft products because whenever I suggest using Microsoft products in classes or during presentations I always hear complaints about license price especially for small short projects.
Here is the list of sites and programs that I am aware of:
MSDN Evaluation Centre - This centre allows individuals to download full featured Microsoft software and tools which can be used for a trial period (90 or 180 days). It also sometimes has links to Microsoft preview of new products.
DreamSpark - This program allows students, educators and academic institutions to get access to Microsoft software and tools at no cost to assist with learning, teaching and research. In technical education who wouldn’t want to use the latest technologies?
BizSpark - This program provides start-ups with free software, tools and support for three years. For more information about eligibility of the BizSpark program check out the FAQ.
Windows Azure Free Trial - This is a great option if you want to see what you can do in the cloud.
While the options above are the full products for a limited time, if you want to use a free version of the product for an unlimited time then look for the Express edition. Of course each product Express edition will have some limitations and lack some features.
If you know about any other legitimate sites or programs please feel free to mention them in the comments.