Microsoft BizSpark Embraces Startups With Free Software, Services

Microsoft is launching a new program called BizSpark to encourage startups to build on their stack this morning.

Virtually everything a startup needs to build a web service (many of the tools and software compete with open source alternatives, such as MySQL) is being offered to startups for free for three years. The program, run by VP Strategic and Emerging Business Development Dan’l Lewin, is global and provides access to full-featured development tools and production licenses of server products with no upfront costs. BizSpark also provides the necessary hand holding with free technical support.

The fine print: startups need to be referred in via a network of venture capitalists, consultants and other professionals in a position to flag promising companies. To qualify a startup needs to have been in business for less than three years and have less than $1 million in revenue.

What startups get: a free, tech-supported alternative to open source software. Microsoft gets to train a new crop of engineers on their software and services, and lock these guys in after three years when fees start to be charged. Brilliant.