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MSDN AA, DreamSpark & Visio for EES Subscribers

By marksams, 02/10/2012 - 13:34

Microsoft recently announced changes to the Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance (MSDN AA) program as part of a rebranding exercise to DreamSpark.

An MSDN AA subscription was/is a free benefit to EES subscribers with a department that uses technology in the support of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) courses, although if you tried to sign-up with the promotion code HSCOMP provided in the EES welcome letter you might have thought otherwise - unless the letter has been recently updated, you will need to call Microsoft Volume Licensing for an updated code on 0800 917 9016.

With the MSDN AA subscription benefit of EES, all schools were entitled to sign up, and could obtain Visio Standard as well Visual Studio Professional (the primary benefit) and other infrastructure software (for development purposes only) for free.

As well as the rebranding to DreamSpark, Microsoft has split the MSDN AA benefit into two tiers, DreamSpark and DreamSpark Premium. Only Higher Education Technical Departments are eligible for DreamSpark Premium - at an additional cost.

DreamSpark Eligibility Table

Although Visual Studio Professional remains a free benefit to all EES subscribers as part of DreamSpark, Visio Standard and other software has moved to DreamSpark Premium.

Compare DreamSpark and DreamSpark Premium


This is bad news for our EES customers that have a genuine requirement for Visio Standard. Why not just subscribe to Visio Standard under EES? - Because it's not there - at this point in time, you can only subscribe to Visio Premium! Shortly after the changes to MSDN AA we had one customer with an FTE count of 125 ask us for 97 copies of Visio Standard. We looked into the costs for this:


  • Licensing Visio Premium under EES organisation-wide: 125 x £4 = £500.00/year
  • Licensing Visio Premium under EES as an additional product/department:  97 x £34 = £3,298.00/year
  • Subscribing to DreamSpark Premium = Approx. £312 ($499) in Year 1 & £200 ($320) in subsequent years.


All prices are for example only, and may vary. Depending on your numbers, DreamSpark Premium (if you qualify with a Higher Education Technical Department) may still be the cheapest way to license Visio, although it's important to note that DreamSpark Premium licensing is for the STEM departments - it cannot be deployed organisation-wide.

So in summary, whilst it's great that Microsoft continue to provide Visual Studio Professional free as a part of DreamSpark (which can be deployed organisation-wide), if you also require Visio, you will have to cough up some extra cash!