Microsoft Launches BizSpark to Help New Companies

Microsoft has launched a broad new effort, known as Microsoft BizSpark, to help entrepreneurs and startups get off the ground using Microsoft tools and technology.

The BizSpark effort, announced Nov. 5, is a global program to do just what the name suggests—help spark new companies to enter the business world. Dan'l Lewin, corporate vice president of strategic and emerging business development at Microsoft, said with BizSpark Microsoft will be providing entrepreneurs with access to Microsoft technology, support and visibility.

BizSpark provides startups and entrepreneurs with fast and easy access to current full-featured Microsoft development tools and production licenses of server products with no upfront costs and minimal requirements.

"We will provide access to our software with no upfront costs whatsoever—qualified through a set of network partners," Lewin said. The software available to the BizSpark participants include Microsoft's Visual Studio application development tool set and "and virtually all of our servers," including Windows Server, SQL Server and other technologies, such as Windows Azure—Microsoft's recently announced cloud computing platform, Lewin said.

Indeed, as part of BizSpark, Microsoft is providing startups with a three-year MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) Professional subscription, which enables them to download a broad set of development tools needed to build, test and maintain an application on the Microsoft platform, including icrosoft Visual Studio and the Microsoft .NET Framework. Through MSDN, BizSpark also provides professional support services and expert information resources.

For startups building hosted software, BizSpark includes production licenses for application hosting and management servers, including Windows Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server, BizTalk Server and Systems Center, with Microsoft Dynamics CRM to be added soon, the company said.

Moreover, Microsoft will provide a worldwide network of hosting partners, offering discounted hosting services to startups that would like to take their business or product online using their BizSpark licenses. Also as part of the program, Microsoft will promote the startups on the BizSparkDB, an online startup directory, the company said.

And in addition to the core BizSpark offering, BizSpark startups also will be allowed access to the CTP (community technology preview) of the Azure Services Platform, a new computing platform that will help developers build the next generation of applications that will span from the cloud to the enterprise data center and deliver compelling new experiences across the PC, Web and phone.

The BizSpark startups also will have access to the CTP of the Live Framework, Microsoft's framework for developers to access and consume Live Services. Live Services is a set of building blocks within the Azure Services Platform for handling user data and application resources, which includes Live Mesh technologies for synchronizing users’ data and extending Web applications across multiple devices, the company said.

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