One thing I have learned since being in NYC is that despite an image of high costs, free is everywhere if one looks carefully. Microsoft has made free an easier search, at least for software developers. Microsoft announced the BizSpark program, a business incubator where entrepreneurs can develop software or software-as-a-service (SaaS) using Microsoft servers and resources like Azure and Visual Studio. The 3 year program is a free to start ups, with a minor exit fee upon completion. During program membership, start ups will have access to Microsoft developers and associated partners, adding visibility to the start up and excellent advisory aid. Microsoft started the BizSpark program as a means for start ups to create software while reducing the initial development costs.
At a Microsoft Gallery, a short term loft display as part of NYC’s Internet Week, Brian Johnson, Start Up Evangelist at Microsoft, explained the conditions of program. Microsoft is offering the program for small businesses that has less than $1 millions in revenue, that has been in operation for 3 years or less as a privately held company, and that offers software as its core product offering.
As a small business I really appreciate the effort from Microsoft. They have made some really interesting efforts into small business support that is not heralded in the media often. Zimana, has used Office Live for hosting the company website (UPDATE: Officelive has been discontinued in 2012, replaced by Office 365, which has no free hosting.)