Microsoft's WebSiteSpark Delivers Free Dev Tools — to Some


If you happen to work for a small startup business, and have the need for web development and tools, you may want to look into a new program that Microsoft (s msft) has launched: WebSiteSpark. The specifics of the program are in this announcement. Essentially, Microsoft is offering a number of its widely-used development tools to small startups for free, or essentially for free. Here are more details, and some of the restrictions that apply.

WebSiteSpark offers software licenses for Microsoft’s widely-used development tools that startups can use for three years at no cost. Support is included with the licenses, as is free online training. The program is especially aimed at independent web developers and web development companies that build web applications and web sites on behalf of others. Startups with fewer than 10 employees can qualify for the freebies, and Microsoft will track the progress of companies that qualify. Some observers are noting that these are fairly tight restrictions, but the program is likely to represent cost savings for some of the qualified companies.

If you do qualify for the free offerings, you get:

  • 3 licenses of Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition
  • 1 license of Expression Studio 3 (which includes Expression Blend, Sketchflow, and Web)
  • 2 licenses of Expression Web 3
  • 4 processor licenses of Windows Web Server 2008 R2
  • 4 processor licenses of SQL Server 2008 Web Edition
  • DotNetPanel control panel (enabling easy remote/hosted management of your servers)

CNet’s Matt Asay makes the good point that there are many free, open source development and platform tools that don’t come with any strings attached, and they compete directly with the offerings above. He points to the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Python/Perl) stack in particular, but WebSiteSpark should be a good program for many companies. It’s one of several “Spark” programs that Microsoft has recently launched, including BizSpark, which also provides free software to startups.

Will you be taking part in the WebSiteSpark program?

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