UPDATE: Be aware that Palomar’s Academic Technology department has discontinued our participation in the MSDN Academic Alliance program as of October 2013. No old accounts function, and no requests for new accounts will be processed.
No, this is not spam, nor a phishing attempt. It’s not even a hoax, although I’ve found it difficult to convince people that I’m serious. There is a whole slew of Microsoft products available free for the asking to the students and employees of Palomar College.
Now, before you get your hopes up, this does NOT include Microsoft Office. Let me say that again – no Office. If you’re interested in getting a copy of Office I can certainly point you towards some excellent discounts (although the pricing for students is higher than that for employees, strangely enough) that have been arranged through the Foundation for California Community Colleges. At the time of this posting, the latest versions of Office are, for Windows, Office 2010, and for Mac, Office 2011. For students a license of Office will run around $110, while the employee price is only $40 (or $50 if you want the installation discs instead of a download).
As I say, I’m not talking about Office. The free software I refer to is through a program called the MSDN Academic Alliance, and includes a whole variety of software including operating systems. Need a copy of Windows 8? Free. How about a license of Windows Server 2008 R2? Free. Want a license of SQL Server 2008 or Exchange Server 2010 to put on there? Free. Want your own copy of Expression Web? Sorry, you’ll have to get the whole Expression Studio… for free.
Do you see the trend here? Yeah, free software.
There are a few more “normal” programs that might be of interest, such as Access, Visio, or Streets and Trips 2010. (Things like Visio don’t really count towards the “no Office” limitation, as Microsoft has never seemed to consider Visio a real part of the Office family. Maybe a second cousin twice removed, but not real family.)
So what’s the catch? Really there isn’t one. You can read up about all the terms on our web site about the Academic Alliance if you like, or just submit a ticket to our helpdesk system requesting one for yourself. If you do submit a ticket, be sure and select the department “MSDN Academic Alliance”, then make the Subject read “Request MSDNAA Account”. You can expect to receive a response back once your information is processed, but it can take several days since the account creation process is not automated. (Yes, I end up personally prepping your account.)
Once your account is set up, you just log in and use the site as if you were shopping for the software, but on “checkout” everything is $0.00. There’s certainly no credit card information or anything else of the sort involved. It’s just that, when you actually do the checkout, that’s when your license keys for your software are generated. Then you can follow the instructions to download the software, and of course use those license keys when you install things.
So, to summarize: