back to article Microsoft woos web devs with (semi-)free stuff

Microsoft has launched a new web developer program for small companies with ten employees or fewer. Dubbed the WebsiteSpark, it's meant to create a network of small business web developers - and get them using Microsoft stuff. "People have been telling us: 'If I'm a service provider and I have ten or fewer employees and I'm …


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  1. Swarthy


    That actually seems like a fair shake. I wonder what the catch is?

  2. Alvar

    Could be IP problems with this

    'The program has no upfront cost, but there is a $100 fee you can pay when exiting. '

    Vince Sabio created the unsubscription fee back in 1996, I think Microsoft may be due to pay him for use of the concept :)

  3. Jim T

    @Swarthy - what's the catch?

    The catch is natural lock in - MS are pretty worried about rivals such as open source kits which are available for free, especially in this economy. This way they can pretty much eliminate the "free" aspect of the competition, and after three years (eternity for a startup) you've got the choice of paying them some actual money or porting everything to another system. After three years of development, the latter's not likely.

    Also it's designed for companies that offer web design for other customers. So the customers have their website on an MS stack, if they want to take their business elsewhere, it'll have to be someone else who's on an MS stack, or face a more expensive rewrite.

    It's a fairly genious marketing ploy. Everything gets based on the MS stack, which as we all know is fantastically interoperable with everything else out there.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sweet smell of desperation

    Microsoft is giving stuff away. How kind.

  5. Chris B
    Thumb Up

    Fantastic deal

    Signed up this morning 3 hours ago, and within 1 hour our membership had been confirmed and I was given a link to the MSDN download section.

    Great stuff from Microsoft. Should save my company a bomb.

  6. Pirate Dave

    Testimonial #1

    My wife and I were having marital problems, but thanks to Microsoft's free non-technical support, we patched things up and are now happier than ever. We really owe a great debt to Bob, our Microsoft-supplied non-technical marriage counsellor. He taught us new ways of communicating our non-technical issues with each other in expressive and positive ways so that we can live together peacefully. I really don't know where we'd be without the help and free non-technical support we received from Microsoft. Likely in divorce court. Thanks Microsoft, your free non-technical support saved our marriage.

    But seriously, WTF is "non-technical" support for a software company?

  7. Jerome 0
    Gates Horns


    I know Microsoft love a bit of lock-in, but to reinforce it with a protection charge is a bit much even for them. What exactly do they do if you refuse to pay up? Send the boys round to ensure you're not using open source dev apps on the sly?

  8. 4HiMarks

    small businesses

    "...I have ten or fewer employees and I'm working on web design, it's really hard to get access to things Microsoft is doing,..."

    and this is a bad thing?

  9. I didn't do IT.
    Gates Horns

    Testimonial #2

    Me: Hello, everyone. My name is I didn't do IT, and I am a technologist.

    Everyone: Hello, Bob.

    Me: Uh... yeah. I would like to thank Jim, my Microsoft-supplied non-technical support counsellor for bringing me to this meeting of GNUanon. Thanks to Microsoft and Jim supplying me with new crack... uh... crack applications development environment, I have seen the error of my ways. Thanks to their non-technical twelve step programmer's guide, I have been able to create websites in twice the time with half the quality.. Ouch!... sorry... half the time and twice the quality of my previous "tools". Thank you.

  10. jg007

    best to read the conditions before signing up

    interesting although noticed this -

    In addition:

     To be eligible to continue to participate in the Program, the company must deploy a new public and Internet-accessible website developed using Program software within 6 months from Program enrollment, and report it and other new websites through the WebsiteSpark Portal

  11. Wesley Parish Bronze badge

    running scared

    Damn. Where the Dunce-cap-wearing Gates and/or Ballmer icons?

    Running scared. I've just found this little titbit on Linux Journal about Python including a builtin web server

    Brilliant for quick-and-dirty prototyping. Even better considering that Python's one of the FOSS scripting languages holding up the Net. And it even works on Windows, so if Microsoft does the BSA Heavy on whatever company employs me, I can take whatever I've done, and move it somewhere else.

    I think that Microsoft will have to get a whole lot friendlier before I'll consider trusting them - as much of the MS WinNT 3.x-4.x source tree as is legitimately theirs, released under the GPL via Sourceforge, and maybe I can trust them not to come the BSA Heavy on customers/competitors ...

  12. Goat Jam

    @Chris B


    There is more than one way to measure cost, Chris.

  13. brudinie

    @Chris B

    "Great stuff from Microsoft. Should save my company a bomb."

    I use php, apache, lighttpd, mysql, postgres, eclipse, xhtml, css, javascipt as my core web technologies.

    All of them free.

    I also do 100% of my company development work using Ubuntu - again 100% free.

    Saved MY company a bomb.

    More importantly, saved my CLIENTS a bomb.

    Wake up, Microsoft's developer offerings are there to increase their market share and when they reach their targets, they will introduce fees - or make the server side technology more expensive for your clients.

  14. oliviaparkar

    Microsoft WebsiteSpark for Web Professionals

    With IIS 7, Windows Server 2008 and SQL 2008 Web professionals can run the Website, Code and Applications needed to deliver the best experience. Take a look at NaviSite SMB Websitespark program.

  15. Chris B
    Gates Halo

    Microsoft actually make some pretty decent products you know.

    Yes thats right, we use SQL Server, Windows Server, Exchange, Visual Studio amongst many other programs, all of which work great for us. We're no Microsoft fan-boys, we're just guys who've used Microsoft software in the past, liked it, and still use it now.

    We also use MySQL & PHP, Chrome & Firefox as well, as these are also good products, and deserve a place in our company.

    Having been in this game for over 10 years now, we've had plenty of time to make our choices over what software to use, and strangely enough we've decided that we actually like the stuff Microsoft makes and are happy to pay for it. If Microsoft want to give us some free software, then great!

    We could probably quite easily decide to go anti-Microsoft if we wanted to, and use all the alternatives instead, but we actually dont want to. It works for us, we find it cost effective, theres lots of free support out there on the internet, and its actually pretty stable stuff.

    Most of the larger companies out there already have set-ups which are primarily Microsoft based, and with us being a company who are targetting these businesses for work, it would pretty silly of us to ignore Microsoft's products.


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