For the first time, Microsoft is licensing a number of software and servers to startups, small businesses, and actual independent web developers - for free. And, it lasts for three years. Scott Guthrie tweeted today about the new WebsiteSpark Program, which is what this program is called. Why not call it WebSpark? I dunno.
I was shocked to see it comes with a 3rd party tool called DotNetPanel, a great Server Control Panel for hosting websites. But, I am guessing the free version - not the upgraded ones. ;)
Microsoft WebsiteSpark Features
Now, don’t get too excited. Here’s the list so far:
- 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)
Some may say, “It doesn’t come with Enterprise editions?!? Blah!” Don’t be discouraged at the power being given away here. This is targeting two key business groups:
- Independent contractors building websites for others.
- Small companies of 10 employees or less building websites for others.
Being in one of these two categories means you really do not have a need for Enterprise editions. If your website(s) actually do need that level of licensing to run on larger hardware, then Microsoft sees that you can afford the $25/mo licensing fee for Standard or $119/mo for Enterprise because of the traffic, of volume of sites you have running.
I kind of agree. Why do startups need to setup these large and expensive 4 webserver, 2 SQL DBs in a high-end failover environment with massive hardware - for the 6 month to 1 year it will take to develop the software? Scale back, let your developers develop it. And 30 days before you launch, then get your massive setup and migrate over to it. You reap the benefits of saving the costs during that time. If you application(s) are too embedded to be migrated quickly to another set of servers, find a new architect or developer.
Microsoft and Open-Source
I actually have a history with these start-up programs. It was back in 2006 when I worked on a new Microsoft site called www.microsoftstartupzone.com at Telligent. It was going to be a new low-cost initiative to compete with the free open-source market (LAMP).
One of the first programs to come out of this site was the BizSpark program that we all know and love. We got BizSpark at GlobalGrind, and I helped setup BizSpark at my former gig as well. It really is a powerful and inexpensive way to get a company up and going.
And now, we have this WebsiteSpark to get things kicked off. Excellent.