Dream Spark is a great resource for students because it allows you to download developer tools for free if you can prove that you are a student. This novel initiative by Microsoft has been highly praised by everyone. However, it is quite annoying to download Visual Studio 2012 or other large files from Dream Spark because of it’s crappy Secure Download manager or SDM.

SDM or Secure Download Manager is a piece of software that downloads the ISO image files from Microsoft’s servers and decrypts them. The problem with this is that the Secure Downloading has been implemented really badly as the SDM does not allow you to pause downloads if your internet disconnects. The result is that the file gets corrupted and the list goes on and on of other issues with SDM. After several failed attempts to download the ISO image file, I found an alternative method to download Visual Studio 2012 and other tools.

Step I – Download a Visual Studio Ultimate 2012 ISO image elsewhere

The Dream Spark edition of Visual Studio does not ask for a key because it is built into the installer, so if you download the ISO from anywhere else, it will ask for a key, but you can circumvent that. You can either torrent a untouched ISO image or simply download it from Microsoft’s Download Center.  Just be careful and remember that torrents can have malware/viruses in them.

Step II – Download the Web Installer from Dream Spark

We have to download the web installer from Dream Spark because it has the key we need build into it. It has to be downloaded through SDM, no other option for this one that I can find, but it is a small file so it downloads and decrypts without any problems.

Step III – Run the Web Installer with a special flag

The Web Installer allows you to download the packages you need (this too has no resume support) and then install it onto a PC that has no internet connection, we are going to take advantage of this feature. Open up the Run dialog box (Winkey + R) and paste the path to the web installer and add the flag /layout, so that your command now looks like this.

“C:DownloadsVisual Studio Professional 2012 (x86) – Web Installer (English)en_visual_studio_professional_2012_x86_web_installer.exe” /layout

Now the Visual Studio Installer will popup asking you to specify a download location. Just point it to a empty folder. When it says that it is downloading the packages, cancel the setup, now navigate to that folder you specified.

Visual Studio layout

In that folder you will find that there is an executable called as “vs_professional.exe”. This executable has the key bundled with it. We can use it to install Visual Studio 2012 without having to enter a key.

Step IV – Install Visual Studio using the generated executable

Now extract the ISO file that you downloaded in Step III to a folder and copy the executable from the Web Installer, “vs_professional.exe” to the same folder where you extracted the ISO file. Now run vs_professional.exe and viola, it installs Visual Studio Professional  without the need of a key.

If you run into any trouble, feel free to comment below and I will help you with it.