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Microsoft Offers Free Software to Startups

Microsoft today announced that it will give away software and services to qualifying software startups as part of its newly announced BizSpark initiative. To qualify for this program, a startup has to be privately held, in business for under three years, and generate less than $1 million per year in revenue. Once accepted into BizSpark, enrollment is free, but the startups will have to pay a nominal fee of $100 when they leave the program.

Those companies that are accepted into the program will receive a full suite (PDF) of Microsoft’s server and development packages, including Windows Server, Office Systen 2007, the Visual Studio System Team Suite, Expression Studio, a CRM solution, and access to Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. Microsoft will also provide extensive development and marketing support to these companies.

Fighting Free With Free

Clearly, this is also a program that is meant to create more goodwill towards Microsoft in the developer community. For a lot of tech startups, running Windows is often not even a consideration, as they are already building their software on top of free software anyway. As Om Malik points out, the idea of using Microsoft software often didn’t even cross his mind when he started his business.

It is good to see that Microsoft is trying to gain some market here. However, it seems that Microsoft is trying to fight the free software movement by giving away its own programs, while a lot of developers prefer software that is not just free, but also open source.

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