Microsoft has recently announced a new program for startups that lets them get MSDN for free.
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MSDN, as you may know, is the Microsoft Developer Network. Joining it gives you free access to Microsoft software and a ton of useful resources for developers that use Microsoft tools, products, services and technologies.
Buying MSDN is expensive. We've done it ourselves, and it's a great subscription to have if you are a Microsoft development shop. However, MSDN costs around $2,000 per year, depending on which MSDN subscription you buy.
When we bought it, I remember searching around for MSDN promotion codes and MSDN Premium coupon codes, trying to find the best price. At the end of a fruitless effort, we just paid the going rate for MSDN.
No regrets, but I wish BizSpark had existed then.
BizSpark is Microsoft's new program for startups. If you are developing software and have been in business for less than three years, you can get MSDN for free. The idea is that Microsoft wants to help startups out. Sure, they are getting you addicted to their development tools, but it's a great gesture all the same. For startups, money is always tight so it's very generous of Microsoft to do this.
Qualifying for free MSDN
To join BizSpark, a startup company must be building a software based product, should have been in existence for less than 3 years, makes less than USD 1 million (local flavors apply for other countries), and, is privately held.
The program is for companies building web applications, or delivering web based services. A startup can be a part of the program for three years (they will have to renew their membership annually), unless they get disqualified because they have gone public (or have been acquired by a company that does not qualify for BizSpark) or if their revenue is greater than USD 1 million.
What kind of free Microsoft software is BizSpark offering?
Microsoft gives you development tools as well as production licenses of their server products.
For development, testing and demonstration, startups can download the software included in the Visual Studio Team System Team Suite (VSTS) with MSDN Premium, plus VSTS Team Foundation Server (Standard Edition).
For production use (that is, to deploy and host an application over the internet), startups can download and use Windows Server, SQL Server, BizTalk Server, and Office SharePoint Server for Internet Sites hosting, as well as Systems Center for managing hosting server operations.
Can I get free Microsoft software after three years of participation in BizSpark?
Nope. After three years in BizSpark, you are done. At this point, there is a $100 fee. No biggie there, given the cost savings on not having to buy MSDN outright.
Even after the three years are up, a startup can continue to use the development tools they received. However, to continue receiving updates to development tools, the startup has to renew their MSDN subscription at usual rates and terms.
Interested in joining Microsoft BizSpark?
Microsoft has been partnering with select organizations to help signup startups for BizSpark. To find an organization near you that can get you started and get you the free MSDN subscription, use this link: Get MSDN for Free By Joining Microsoft Bizspark. You can also find more information at Microsoft BizSpark – Free Microsoft Software for Startups.