The announcement of BizSpark didn't get a huge amount of attention and I'm not surprised. After 24 years of running Wintel based systems I flipped to Mac and have never missed anything Microsoft offered. OK - I'm an edge case that wants to run as much as I can in the Internet cloud but as someone who has invested in startups the last couple of years I can confidently say that no-one I personally know is building on the Microsoft stack. That's not to say they don't exist.
I recently spoke with ThoughtFarmer. They're betting that organizations wanting to replace intranets will be more willing to do so if the offering is built on Microsoft technology. I see the wisdom in that (more on ThoughtFarmer next week.) Despite all the column inches that open source, Mac, Ubuntu and the like generate, the fact remains that Microsoft still 'owns' the enterprise. That may not matter for departmental solutions owned by users or those deployed over the Internet but it sure as heck matters internally. Especially if that means support.
Mike Arrington declares Microsoft's BizSpark initiative as 'brilliant' and when you look at it, that's easy to understand:
What startups get: a free, tech-supported alternative to open source software. Microsoft gets to train a new crop of engineers on their software and services, and lock these guys in after three years when fees start to be charged. Brilliant.
The question for startup developers is whether they trust Microsoft not to gouge them when the deal expires or before they've hit enough revenue to afford the services.Most of the folk I know give a collective shrug but then I only know a fraction of 1% of those in the developer community. As Jason Harris said on CMS Newsire:
In many cases, running Microsoft software doesn’t even enter the minds of those building solutions in a start-up environment.
It will be interesting to revisit this in say a year and see how Microsoft is doing. In the meantime, if you're a startup, would you go for BizSpark?