Last November, Microsoft started a new program called BizSpark for startups that's pretty sweet. It's pretty not-too-evil also.
If you are a small business and you sell a product or service to your customers, you might want to check it out. Here's the criteria:
Here's what you get from the program:
After three years, they assume you've either succeeded and are making money, or you're gone. If you're around and you want to continue, you pay for your MSDN subscriptions the regular way, and if you want to keep using your production licenses, you pay for those using the Service Provider Licensing program.
If you want in, you need to find a sponsor, and there's a list on the site. If you can't find one, though, Bill Staples (a General Manager at MSFT) can sponsor you (details on his site, click "Contact Me" under his picture) which is nice of Bill.
BizSpark is for companies that SELL something (product or service), not for pure consulting companies, but if your consulting company has at least one product or service, that appears to meet the criteria.
I asked folks on Twitter to see if they were using it and if it was a good thing, and everyone said it was a good program. It's a messed up economic time, and I think BizSpark would be an easy way to get a small business or startup idea of the ground without thinking about software licensing for 3 years. If you've got an idea for a business, or you already have a business, this could be the program for you. Tell Bill I sent you (he's one of my many bosses, so be nice and don't get me sacked) and he'll help you get setup.
Are you in this program? Is it a good thing? Leave a comment.
Update: The guy at MSFT who runs the program is Julien Codorniou and feel free to email him at julienco at microsoft.com with questions. Mention my name for free candy (not really).
Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.