How to Download and Install DreamSpark Software

Microsoft software from DreamSpark comes packaged in large, single files with .ISO or .IMG extensions. These files are “images” (exact copies) of the CD or DVD media on which the software would be shipped. (The name ISO refers to the standardized file format used for disc images.)

Since Microsoft software from DreamSpark often comes packaged in large ISO files (with file sizes on the order of gigabytes), downloading from the server with no download management system may cause your download to fail with no way to resume it. You may have experienced this if your connection timed out or if you ran out of disk space during a large download.

To address this issue, DreamSpark recommends the use of the Akamai Download Manager to steadily deliver the software to your computer. In the event that your connection to the server is reset, the progress you made on the download will not be lost.

Tip: If you have an external hard drive, download the large ISO images to it to conserve valuable disk space on your PC.

Akamai Download Manager

If you are using Internet Explorer, you will be able to install this tool as an ActiveX control on the way to downloading the software.

IMPORTANT: If you are using a browser other than Internet Explorer (including Netscape, Firefox, Opera, and others) you will need to manually install the Download Manager tool.

Now that Akamai Download Manager is installed, you can download software from DreamSpark.

If you are using Windows Vista, the built-in User Account Control feature will not allow you to download directly into system-owned folders. This means you must create your own directory for Download Manager DreamSpark downloads.

When your download is complete, you will have the ISO file to deal with. At this point, you have two options: mount the image, or burn it to a CD or DVD.

Installing Software from ISO Images

Option 1: Burning a Disc

If you need to create a bootable disc, or just want to create a “hard copy” of the software you’ve downloaded, it is a good idea to burn the image to disc.

Depending on the size of the file, you can use a CD or a DVD. Most software available through DreamSpark is too large to fit on a CD, so using blank DVDs is good practice.

You need the following items to burn the ISO image to a disc:

    • A CD/DVD drive capable of writing DVDs (look for a DVD/R or DVD/RW symbol)
    • A blank, writeable DVD compatible with your DVD writer
    • A software program capable of burning a disc from an image file

Most CD / DVD authoring programs provide the capability to burn a disc from an image.

Some freeware tools are available, such as ISO Recorder . Manufacturers of popular programs with this capability include Nero and Roxio .

A list of other programs for managing ISO files can be found here:

Using ISO Recorder to burn an image to disc

ISO Recorder is not a program you can launch, but an extension to the Windows shell. It allows you to right-click on an ISO image and choose Copy Image to CD, as shown below:

Selecting Copy image to CD will display a dialog titled CD Recording Wizard (or DVD Recording Wizard if it is a DVD ISO and you are running Vista). You can accept the defaults here and choose Next. Within a few minutes, your CD will be done!

Using Nero 7 Ultra Edition to burn an image to disc
  1. Start Nero Burning ROM by navigating to Start menu | Program Files | Nero 7 Ultra Edition | Data | Nero Burning ROM…
  2. On the New Compilation screen, press Cancel.
  3. From the Recorder menu, choose Burn Image…
  4. Browse to the ISO or IMG file you downloaded from MSDNAA and click Open.
  5. Click Burn to start the burn process.
Voila! A Disc Copy of the Software

Now that you’ve burned your ISO to a DVD, you can treat it as if you bought the software in the store. Just insert it into your DVD drive and install as you would any other program.

Tip: By using the Burn ISO Image feature of your DVD authoring software, you can create bootable discs without worrying about special settings (in the case of operating systems, for example).

Option 2: Mounting the ISO Image

If you don’t want to go to the trouble of burning a disc, you can mount the ISO image using third-party tools.


… such as Windows Vista, XP, Server, etc., do not attempt to mount the image in your current operating system to install it. A mounted drive is “remembered” by the operating system and the mounting tools, but will not exist between system reboots.


If you are trying to install an operating system, always burn a DVD and make sure the BIOS is configured to attempt to boot from the DVD drive as part of the boot sequence.

Mounting is the process of temporarily creating a virtual drive on your computer with the contents of the ISO package loaded in it, as if you had inserted a DVD into your existing DVD drive. Third-party tools are required to mount an ISO image. Most common CD and DVD authoring tools will allow you to mount an ISO image, and many freeware utilities are available as well (see

Daemon Tools is a free and popular tool that allows you to mount ISO images.

Microsoft also has a free tool that you can use to mount an ISO image, available at the link below.

Using DAEMON Tools

Follow these steps to mount an image using DAEMON tools.

  1. Download DAEMON Tools for your current operating system from the following link:
  2. Install DAEMON Tools. A system reboot will be required to set up the virtual disc environment.
  3. Reboot your computer when prompted to do so.
  4. DAEMON Tools installation will continue after your operating system starts up. You may receive some warnings notifying you that the setup is trying to continue. Allow the setup to continue.
  5. Choose the options you want to install. You need the core files and the shortcuts. The Search Bar is optional advertising which you can safely avoid installing.
  6. From now on, you will be able to mount ISO images by right-clicking the DAEMON Tools icon in your taskbar and following this menu sequence:
    Virtual CD/DVD ROM | Device 0: [Letter:] | Mount image
    Notice what drive letter you are mounting to.
  7. This will bring up a dialog box allowing you to browse to and open image files. Select the .ISO or .IMG file you downloaded from MSDNAA and click Open to mount the image.
  8. You can now access the image as if it were a CD or DVD by going to My Computer (or Computer in Vista) and double-clicking, auto-running, or exploring the contents of the virtual drive (the drive letter is the same as the one you noted above).
Running Software from a Mounted ISO Image

Once your ISO file is mounted, you will see a new drive show up in your My Computer (XP) or Computer (Vista) pane. You can interact with this virtual drive as if you had a CD loaded in it – by right clicking it and choosing AutoPlay, or by Exploring it and choosing Setup.exe, and so forth.

When installing the software, make sure to follow any instructions on the virtual CD, especially readme files.


Burning a Disc versus Mounting the Image

Are you unsure whether you should burn a disc or mount the image? Use the chart below to help you decide based on the purpose and type of the download.

Burn a Disc

Mount the Image

Operating Systems

Servers and Tools

Making Hard Copies

Backing Up Software



Application Setup Discs (Office, Visual Studio, Games, Dev Tools, etc)

Run-Once Applications