Here’s a handy little link that more people should know about: estore.usfca.edu. Pop that into your browser and you’ll be instantly whisked away to USF’s online marketplace, where you can find some pretty choice software and more, for heavily discounted prices. Here’s some of my top picks:
Windows 7 Professional Edition (FREE): Yes, you are reading that correctly. If you’re a student, faculty or staff member of USF, you’re most likely eligible to obtain a free copy of Windows 7 Professional Edition in either its 32-bit or 64-bit variant. Just click on the link that says “MSDN-AA” (it’s at the bottom), log in and you’ll have access to a bunch of software, including that shiny, wondrous, free Windows 7. Go through all the steps and you’re given an option to either download Windows 7 and burn it onto a DVD or place yourself in a queue for a rental DVD, which you can pick up from ITS and hold onto for two days. When installing, just check your account page on the MSDN-AA website for your serial number.
So which version should you get: 32-bit or 64-bit? That solely depends on how much RAM your computer has. If you have 4 gigabytes of RAM or more, 64-bit is the way to go. Otherwise, 32-bit will do the trick.
And don’t think this is just for PCs, either! If you have a Mac, you can use this to dual-boot OS X and Windows 7 using either Boot Camp, Apple’s built-in dual-booting system or VMware, which I’ll get into in a moment. Bottom line, if your computer’s been feeling a little sluggish or you’ve just been wanting to upgrade, breathe a little fresh air into it with a free copy of Windows 7. I mean, come on, why wouldn’t you?
VMware Fusion 3 (FREE for a year): So you’ve got a Mac, a hankering for some dual-boot action, a free copy of Windows 7 from MSDN-AA, but you don’t feel like dealing with the mess of separating your hard drive and everything else that comes with a dual-boot. Enter VMware Fusion 3, which you can obtain from the online marketplace free for a year. Thing is, the year is reoccurring, so as long as you’re a student at USF, you can run the software for free. VMware Fusion 3 lets you run a virtual version of Windows within OS X – basically an operating system within an operating system. It’s like the movie “Inception.”
Running Windows this way has some sweet benefits. For one, you don’t have to mess around with your hard drive to create a separate partition, which can be a pretty dangerous thing to do if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Also, running Windows through VMware means that you can interact with OS X in regards to transferring files more easily. The downside, however, is that running VMware can be quite taxing on your system, so make sure you have a good enough computer to run it smoothly. I recommend 4 gigabytes of RAM.
Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 ($68.66): Let’s be honest – no computer is complete without some form of Microsoft Office on there. It’s an integral piece of software, especially for students. And though you can’t get it for that oh-so-sweet price of $0, you can still score a crazy discount through USF’s online marketplace. Just click on the “Personal Computing Purchase” link and you’ll be able to snag a copy of Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 for $68.66.
I know, that may seem pretty hefty on a student’s budget, but if you consider that the standard price for a license is roughly $400, all of a sudden it doesn’t seem so bad. This is the most recent version of Microsoft Office and it comes with the whole shebang – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and a bunch of other programs which may end up making your life easier.
And if you’re a business major with a MacBook who needs Excel for your QBA class (trust me, I see this all the time), this is the version you’re going to need – and it goes great with those free copies of Windows 7 and VMWare Fusion 3 that you got.
This is but a small sampling of all the cool stuff you can get off USF’s online marketplace for free or cheap.
So hit up estore.usfca.edu, poke around through all the links and snag some deals!