Student-Owned Computing: Microsoft Imagine

What is Microsoft Imagine?

Microsoft Imagine (formerly named Microsoft DreamSpark) is a program through which students can download and install many Microsoft products, including Windows, free of charge. Microsoft Office is not included in this program.

Microsoft Imagine Eligibility

Microsoft states that in order to be eligible for Imagine access, you must be currently taking a class in one of the participating departments.

For MS Imagine, your major is irrelevant; what matters is whether you are currently enrolled in a class in a participating department.

Therefore, anyone enrolled in a class in a participating department is eligible through that department, regardless of their major.

Microsoft requires that access to Imagine be controlled on a departmental basis — we can’t set it up for the College of Engineering as a whole — so each academic department has a different link. See the table below for those links.

What software is included?

Microsoft decides which software is available through Imagine; in general, they provide operating systems (Windows), professional developer and coding software. Other software like Visio and Project are also available. Microsoft Office is not offered through this service, though it is available through What you see once you are logged in is what you have access to download.

How do I know whether I have access?
  • When you are given access, you are sent an automated email from welcoming you to the program. It’s easy to miss; search your email account for this. Sometimes it ends up in “Spam” for some reason.
  • If you can’t find this email, you can go to the link for the department you should have access through, and click “sign in” and then “forgot password.” Enter your NCSU email address (in the format and you will be emailed instructions.
  • If you still can’t get access, and you think you should be eligible, contact the appropriate support as listed below for the department in which you are taking the course.


Course Prefix Store Link Access Given Contact
BAE a few days after semester begins BAE Support
BME BME Support
CE CCEE – Imagine Census date of fall and spring semesters Eos Help
CBE CBE – Imagine Census date of fall and spring semesters Eos Help
CSC CSC – Imagine first day of class CSC Support
ECE ECE – Imagine a few days after semester begins ECE Support
ISE ISE – Imagine a few days after semester begins ISE Support
MAE a few days after semester begins MAE Support
MSE MSE – Imagine a few days after semester begins MSE Support
NE NE – Imagine NE Support
PSE CNR Support
TE TE Support

NCSU Academic Calendar

How do I download?
  1. Once you have successfully logged in, just find the desired software and “add to cart” even though you won’t actually be paying anything. If you are downloading Windows 7, chances are that you should download the 64-bit with Service Pack 1, unless your computer is old. If your computer is over 3 years old, contact us for advice on which operating system to select.
  2. When you are ready to download, go to your shopping cart and select “Check Out.” Agree to the terms and continue.
  3. Follow the instructions to download your file.
Don’t forget the serial!

You’ll need to make note of the serial number that is supplied on the checkout page. It will generally be five groups of five letters, like


It’s a good idea to copy and paste it somewhere convenient, like in a simple text file, until you need it. This serial will be unique to you, and you’ll need it when installing Windows.

If you need to refer to it later, you can log into your Imagine account and view your past orders, where the serial will be shown.

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