The Insanity of Microsoft BizSpark

BizSpark is a new business development program from Microsoft targeted at startup web software developers. BizSpark allows young tech companies to get free use of Microsoft’s development tools and platforms for three years. According to Anand Iyer, developer evangelist at Microsoft, who I heard speak at last night’s New York Tech Meetup, the concept is driven by the belief that many entrepreneurs would like to work with Microsoft tools, but they are too expensive.

Eliminating expense as a factor for startups that have excellent free alternatives is a smart thing to do. The problem is that they have made the sign up process so cumbersome sounding that I think it *greatly* limits their potential for success, while creating a truly offensive dynamic.

It appears the lawyers are afraid that too many people will get free software from Microsoft if they are not careful, and so they did what lawyers always do: they introduced stupid barriers. Basically the requirement seems to be that you need a “Network Partner” to sponsor your company. Network Partners appear to be firms and entities that allow Microsoft to feel comfortable that we wily young software companies will not take advantage of them.

But the problem is, at my company, we use Linux and I think most startup software companies do. And I have no interest spending time seeking out a network partner to whom I must explain what I am doing and why I should be approved.

In fact, the situation is entirely reversed. Microsoft needs to convince *me* why I should use their stuff. They need to *sell ME* not get me to beg for access. They are playing this like access to their software is akin to some kind of seed investment from Microsoft. In fact, many if not most of these network partners are in fact VCs, a particularly odious linkage.

The bottom line is I was fine yesterday without Microsoft, and I will be fine tomorrow without Microsoft. I don’t want to apply to their f’ing program for the “privilege” of using their tools, and in truth even if they paid me it might be an uphill battle. In any case, I would certainly need serious convincing. And call me silly, but I doubt I am alone here.

It sounds to me like this BizSpark thing was a great idea until, I presume, the lawyers got to it. Then it just became a big steaming pile.

Post Author: Ruby H. Rosenbaum

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