If you are a start-up studio (less than three years old) I recommend you join
the Microsoft BizSpark program. As well as a lot of help and support and
networking opportunities, it gives you free access to all Microsoft software
(incredible but true).
Below are a few details from the BizSpark website—and considering there is no charge at all for joining, this really is the best offer around for start-ups.
The Microsoft BizSpark program is based on the belief that start-up success
is our success. Microsoft is committed to helping technology start-ups realize their goals on their own terms and in the shortest amount of time. Through BizSpark, Microsoft’s goals are to:
Help young and innovative software companies gain valuable experience
and expertise in Microsoft technologies, with no upfront costs.
Help start-ups establish connections with local and global start-up
ecosystems—VCs, angels, incubators, entrepreneur associations etc.
Stimulate vibrant local software ecosystems and promote innovation and
Support the broadest possible start-up audience in a way that complements
their values and the organizations that support them.
Access to 900+ current, full-featured software development tools, platform
technologies and server products to build software applications. BizSpark
start-ups also get free monthly Windows Azure benefits enabling them to
quickly build, deploy and manage Web applications.
Start-ups become part of the BizSpark ecosystem and get access to investors
and advisors and valuable offers to help run their businesses, find talent and obtain financing. Start-ups also get access to technical, product and business training and support.
Eligible start-ups must be:
Actively engaged in development of a software-based product or service that will form a core piece of its current or intended business.
To meet this requirement the software must:
▶ add significant and primary functionality to the integrated Microsoft
▶ be owned, not licenced by the start-up;
▶ be privately held;
▶ have been in business for less than five years and
▶ bring in less than US$1 million in annual revenue.