Announcing the WebsiteSpark Program

image Building on the success of the DreamSpark and BizSpark program that we launched about 11 months ago Microsoft is now launching the WebsiteSpark program.

WebsiteSpark is designed for small web consultancies ranging in size from 1 to 10 people. With WebsiteSpark, you get a package of software specifically selected for a web consultancy to serve their customers better.

What does the program provide?

WebSiteSpark provides software licenses that you can use for three years at no cost.  Once enrolled, you can download and immediately use the following software from Microsoft:

  • 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)

The Windows Server and SQL Server licenses are for you to do both development and production work. Also, the production licenses can be leveraged in a couple of different ways. You can do 1 production server with 4 processors or 4 servers with 1 processor each. These servers can also be either dedicated hardware or virtualized offerings. If you want, you can throw the licenses on your own server with the “self-hosted” model or you can enroll with one of the hosters that have signed up as a Network Partner. As a Network Partner, they will pass the savings of the licenses on to you and only charge you for the infrastructure work. You can find all of the hosting network partners on the WebsiteSpark page.

But this program is not just about software. As part of the WebsiteSpark, the people that enroll are entered into the Microsoft Partner Program and into Microsoft Pinpoint. This will help result in customer referrals and more. There’s also 2 Microsoft professional support incidents per year and some free online training that will be provided. 

Who’s eligible for BizSpark?

WebSiteSpark is available to independent web developers and small web development companies.  The only two requirements to join the program are:

  1. Your company builds web sites and web application on behalf of others.
  2. Your company currently has less than 10 employees.

If you qualify and want to get signed up today, there are a couple of different paths.

You can always visit WebsiteSpark and sign up directly. During the enrollment, you can pick a network partner or you can pick one of your friends at Microsoft such as me as your contact to enroll and sign you up.

Or you can send mail to webspark@microsoft.com you can get a referral code quickly.  You can then use that code to enroll in the program on the WebsiteSpark website.  Once enrolled you can immediately download and use the software, as well as begin to participate in the network/partner opportunities.

If you run into any issues at all, email me at josh.holmes@microsoft.com and I’ll help you out.

Some quick Q&A
  • What happens after the 3 years?

There is a $100 exit fee when you leave the program whether you leave at the end of 1 year or you leverage all three years. However, there’s no obligation to continue using any/all of the software once you exit the program. If you so wish, you can pay the $100 exit fee and wash your hands of the whole deal. Obviously, the play here is that at the end of the three years you will find our platform and tools valuable enough to purchase.

That said, there are some interesting incentives that are being put in place right now to help you with that decision. WebsiteSpark participants can optionally choose to purchase all of the software in the WebsiteSpark program via a $999/year package. And yes, that includes all of the software involved from the tools to the production licenses.  

Or you can just leverage the production licenses through a stellar $199 a year offer that includes both 1 Windows Web Server processor license and 1 SQL Server Web edition processor license.  You can buy the quantity you need of this package at $199/year each. 

  • What’s the role of the Network Partner?

Similar to the BizSpark program, the Network Partners are selected because they are active in supporting the ecosystem that the program is intended for. In the case of hosters it’s obvious. They host the websites that WebsiteSpark participants are building. There are others who work with the community in advisory roles and want to help out as mentors and coaches.

Couple of examples:

Cal Evans is another example of a great network partner as he’s working with PHP shops all over the world and helping them to be successful again as a mentor and as a coach. As a network partner, he is adding one more offering into the portfolio to help his mentees be successful.

Steve Smith from Nimble Pros who wanted to be involved as a network partner because he’s active in working with other consults to help them be successful through support, advice, mentoring and sometimes sub-contracting. He’s proven this by being a Microsoft Regional Director and an MVP for many years. His role as a network partner in the program only furthers that goal of helping the ecosystem.

Ben Henderson from Firefly Logic, Harper Reed from Threadless and John Alexander and Jeff Julian from Geeks With Blogs hold similar positions in the community as influential bloggers, coaches, mentors and advisors to many companies.

Summary

I’m really excited about WebsiteSpark because I remember when I was an independent consultant and then a partner at SRT Solutions getting our first dedicated server. It was a great feeling to have the freedom to do whatever we needed to do with the server from installing different types of software to configuring the redirects the way we wanted.

For more details – read Scott Guthrie’s blog post at Announcing the WebsiteSpark
Program – ScottGu’s Blog

Again, if you want to get involved, feel free to contact me at josh.holmes@microsoft.com. Either I can sign you up directly or get you in touch with the right network partner to help you in your situation.

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