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Topic # 110081 2-Oct-2012 19:41 Send private message

I'm thinking of applying for the Microsoft BizSpark programme, but before I pull the plug I wanted to solicit feedback from anyone who may have already have experience there.

On the surface it seems like a no brainer. Development tools, operating systems and Azure hosting for 3 years. But are there any gotchas? And what happens at the end of the 3 years? Is it easy enough to opt out of gracefully? All going to plan, with the help of BizSpark I'll be raking it in with all the new goodies I've developed, but I need to cater for the scenario that this doesn't exactly pan out.

Also, how useful is the Azure hosting? I'm about to delve into the trial now to try and find out for myself, but any feedback there would also be appreciated.

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  Reply # 695271 3-Oct-2012 02:13 Send private message

It's covered pretty well on the site
http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/about/Graduation.aspx



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  Reply # 695306 3-Oct-2012 08:37 Send private message

Ragnor: It's covered pretty well on the site
http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/about/Graduation.aspx


Yeah, I saw that. But it still leaves a few unanswered questions. FI, what exactly is the graduation process that has to be completed? And how easy is it to walk away without being obligated to purchase further products and services from Microsoft? Common sense would dictate that you should be able to abandon everything at no cost, but I'm wary of gotchas in such an attractive looking offer.

As for Azure, I signed up for the trial last night. Looks like its a pretty impressive product, and may work well for me. Still investigating, but on the surface it appears to tick all the boxes.

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  Reply # 695379 3-Oct-2012 10:41 Send private message

The exit fee is $100 USD at the end of the 3 years.

Not sure how strict they are on chasing that down, they probably don't bother. Worst case $100 USD for use of the stuff you get access to for 3 years is still a good deal.

The graduation offer/process is that if you buy a MSDN sub (any level) OR Software Assurance (at 50% off for two years) at the end of the program they waive the exit fee and give you perpetual licenses to the current versions of of the stuff you got in the program (MSDN Ultimate, Windows Server and SQL Server licenses).



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  Reply # 695384 3-Oct-2012 10:50 Send private message

Ragnor: The exit fee is $100 USD at the end of the 3 years.

Not sure how strict they are on chasing that down, they probably don't bother. Worst case $100 USD for use of the stuff you get access to for 3 years is still a good deal.

The graduation offer/process is that if you buy a MSDN sub (any level) OR Software Assurance (at 50% off for two years) at the end of the program they waive the exit fee and give you perpetual licenses to the stuff you got in the program (MSDN Ultimate, Windows Server and SQL Server licenses).


Wow, that really makes it sound like a no-brainer. Guess I'll check with the Minister of Finance (who is vacationing with family ATM), then pull the trigger.

Thanks for your input.

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  Reply # 695388 3-Oct-2012 10:54 Send private message

For the Graduation offer, cheapest MSDN subscription (Operating Systems) is currently $990 USD/year, not sure how much Software Assurance would be.



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  Reply # 695401 3-Oct-2012 11:12 Send private message

Ragnor: For the Graduation offer, cheapest MSDN subscription (Operating Systems) is currently $990 USD/year, not sure how much Software Assurance would be.


Thanks. As it currently stands, that it is out of my current budget. But 3 years is a long time. Things may be wildly different then. 

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  Reply # 695432 3-Oct-2012 11:50 Send private message

Ragnor: The exit fee is $100 USD at the end of the 3 years.


As it happens I actually received an e-mail reminder from Microsoft (for one of my clients) on Monday that said their Bizspark graduation was coming up shortly. And in that e-mail it says:

"And, we have removed the $100 exit fee for the BizSpark program".

Personally I think its a no brainer ;)




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  Reply # 695460 3-Oct-2012 12:21 Send private message

What your obligation at the end of the BizSpark? Are you expected to create tonnes of apps for marketplace/store etc? What if you failed the graduation?




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  Reply # 695465 3-Oct-2012 12:31 Send private message

I have WebsiteSpark Admin account that I applied for and got in. Covers free Azure, Visual Studio 2012 tools for free (professional) and Windows Server 2008 R2 and Server 2012 for 3 years :-)




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  Reply # 695686 3-Oct-2012 16:54 Send private message

Basically the rules are that you have to be making something, and it has to be on the MS platform. No surprise. Whether it's SaaS, downloadable, phone, or something like that - it's all good. Just don't expect them to be OK with you just releasing Mac or PHP apps after signing up ;). Consulting is out. If you're a consultant, they don't want you - they only want people or businesses making products.

If you don't actually manage to get anything out during the 3 years, they don't care. At all. Obviously the nature of startups is that they are risky and can fail, so they're not huge on enforcing that you produce something. Obviously it'd be good if you do manage to, and they do expect you to intend to.

On graduation, which is just a checklist where you basically tick a box, give them the OK to pass your details onto the local MSDN distributor (Mindscape) to contact you about re-upping on the cheap, and agree to the amendment (which includes a license grant to 4x Windows Server, 2x SQL Server, 1x Visual Studio, and System Center if you're using it for monitoring the above) then you're done. You do NOT need to sign up for software assurance or MSDN unless you want to get new versions of the software.

There is no failure, since it's not a test - and no expectations either. You still can keep in as a member of the program without the MS software benefits other than what you've been granted if you want to keep up with news and take advantage of VC investor visibility and special offers.



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  Reply # 695698 3-Oct-2012 17:15 Send private message

Kyanar: Basically the rules are that you have to be making something, and it has to be on the MS platform. No surprise. Whether it's SaaS, downloadable, phone, or something like that - it's all good. Just don't expect them to be OK with you just releasing Mac or PHP apps after signing up ;). Consulting is out. If you're a consultant, they don't want you - they only want people or businesses making products.


I actually just got an approval code after liasing with Microsoft NZ via Twitter. They seem to think I'm a pretty good candidate for the scheme.


If you don't actually manage to get anything out during the 3 years, they don't care. At all. Obviously the nature of startups is that they are risky and can fail, so they're not huge on enforcing that you produce something. Obviously it'd be good if you do manage to, and they do expect you to intend to.


Yeah, I'm hoping to use this time to really kick my career up a notch or three. Go from being a self-employed contractor to someone who has a suite of marketable products. May be a pipe dream, but no guts no glory, right? :-)


On graduation, which is just a checklist where you basically tick a box, give them the OK to pass your details onto the local MSDN distributor (Mindscape) to contact you about re-upping on the cheap, and agree to the amendment (which includes a license grant to 4x Windows Server, 2x SQL Server, 1x Visual Studio, and System Center if you're using it for monitoring the above) then you're done. You do NOT need to sign up for software assurance or MSDN unless you want to get new versions of the software.

There is no failure, since it's not a test - and no expectations either. You still can keep in as a member of the program without the MS software benefits other than what you've been granted if you want to keep up with news and take advantage of VC investor visibility and special offers.


Thanks for all the excellent feedback, both to you and the other posters in this thread.

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  Reply # 698091 8-Oct-2012 19:27 Send private message

It is a great deal for any development business - go for it. We graduated last year.

There are no traps, but a few minor things to be wary of:

The free 2CPU SQL server turned out to be no use because our hosting company has existing agreement with MS (anyone supporting MS will) and besides it is too much hassle trying to work out the licensing.

Don't try to understand the licenses or work out exactly what you arecallowed to do... that path leads to madness. There is conflicting information, and all MS licences are gobbledegook (a careful reading seems to say you can do nothing useful with the licences -because MS has some odd clauses to try and prevent misuse).

I cant recall if OS licenses are perpetual, but it becomes difficult to track what was installed using the BizSpark licences. Try to keep a record of keys and what you installed.

AFAIK, i recall the licences are really for development use only, not for internal business use. But they don't enforce and worst case would be you had to buy licences.

The multiple MS websites you need to use for BizSpark were really crappy UI, and difficult to enter info, find info, or do what was necessary. Keep links :-)

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  Reply # 698307 9-Oct-2012 10:35 Send private message

robocat: It is a great deal for any development business - go for it. We graduated last year.

There are no traps, but a few minor things to be wary of:

The free 2CPU SQL server turned out to be no use because our hosting company has existing agreement with MS (anyone supporting MS will) and besides it is too much hassle trying to work out the licensing.

Don't try to understand the licenses or work out exactly what you arecallowed to do... that path leads to madness. There is conflicting information, and all MS licences are gobbledegook (a careful reading seems to say you can do nothing useful with the licences -because MS has some odd clauses to try and prevent misuse).

I cant recall if OS licenses are perpetual, but it becomes difficult to track what was installed using the BizSpark licences. Try to keep a record of keys and what you installed.

AFAIK, i recall the licences are really for development use only, not for internal business use. But they don't enforce and worst case would be you had to buy licences.

The multiple MS websites you need to use for BizSpark were really crappy UI, and difficult to enter info, find info, or do what was necessary. Keep links :-)


This isn't quite true.  The SPLA that hosting companies use to offer Microsoft products carries a cost, but the license grant Microsoft gives BizSpark graduates can be offered to the hosting company in lieu of payment (which is a saving of anywhere from $30-$40 USD/month up)

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  Reply # 698309 9-Oct-2012 10:40 Send private message

Good point. We arranged for a couple of clients to not pay for monthly Microsoft Licenses for Windows and SQL Server with WebDrive hosting Windows VPS's - we just had to supply them with details of the Bizspark license. They we very easy to deal with on this.




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