Microsoft is launching a new program focused on helping Startups get up and running. The program is called BizSpark and according to Microsoft, the biggest benefits are
Software. Receive fast and easy access to current full-featured Microsoft development tools, platform technologies, and production licenses of server products for immediate use in developing and bringing to market innovative and interoperable solutions. There is no upfront cost to enroll. Support. Get connected to Network Partners around the world — incubators, investors, advisors, government agencies and hosters — that are equally involved and vested in software-fueled innovation and entrepreneurship who will provide a wide range of support resources Visibility. Achieve global visibility to an audience of potential investors, clients and partners
Basically, you enroll and are given access to a almost all the nessecary server and development software you need. The server licenses are even prouduction grade, so you can deploy (from what I can tell) cheaply. You are getting a high end MSDN subscription and a lot more, all for free.
My first few startups were Microsoft-based. Believe me, things have changed. We used to have to scrape together $6000, $12000 or $18000 to pay for MSDN subscriptions. That was always incredibly painful. Microsoft eventually announced a program (PowerISV) that brought down the cost, but was still really weak on support. BizSpark eliminates almost all the licensing/software costs involved in being a Microsoft Based startup.
I am not going to get in to any religious wars here. 90% of the startups I see (at the early stage) these days are Open Source based. The reasons for going Open Source are obvious for many of them, but for others it is not such a simple decision. For those building software focused on businesses, Microsoft brings some very big opportunities to the table, especially with the Azure Services Platform.
The other thing that tells me that Microsoft is starting to finally “get it” is that they don’t care if you are a 100% Microsoft based startup, or if you are Open Source based and just need to connect to Microsoft tools. The program is open to everyone.
If you are coming to StartupEmpire, Microsoft is going to be throwing the after-party to celebrate startups and the new BizSpark program. There will be Microsoft execs on hand to answer your questions and to explain the program.
In case you are wondering, no: this is not a pay-to-play post. Nobody from Microsoft asked me to write it. I believe this program stands on its own.