Microsoft makes Web development tools available for free

Microsoft makes Web development tools available for free

Summary: The newest "Spark" program, unveiled by Microsoft on September 24, is aimed at getting more Web developers to use Microsoft's Expression and other development tools.


Microsoft has been on a "Spark" roll lately, rolling out discount programs for students (DreamSpark) and startups (BizSpark).

On September 24, Microsoft added another Spark program to its list: WebSite Spark. The newest Spark program is aimed at getting more Web developers to use Microsoft's Expression and other development tools. (As Seattle Times blogger Brier Dudley noted, Microsoft hasn't been bowled over by Expression sales/usage. So trying to seed these tools among developers makes sense for the Redmondians.)

On the same day, To emphasize the company's not only intent on getting Web devs to use Microsoft-branded tools, the company also rolled out today Version 2.0 of its Web Platform Installer and Windows Web Application Gallery, which provide developers with a one-stop shop for third-party dev tools, including a number of free, open-source dev tools that work on/with Windows. (Microsoft announced the beta of the installer and gallery at its Mix conference this year.)

If you're wondering how the new Spark program stacks up against the already announced ones, here's a comparison. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

Topics: Microsoft, Browser, CXO, Software Development


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • right...

    'free tools' that cost you arm and leg when you realized you just missed a small component not included in the 'stack'...kind of like getting a free car with no wheels.
    Linux Geek
    • Give an Example

      What would one of those components be?
      • there are fine prints there

        as always.
        Linux Geek
        • So Essentialy

          You cant give an example?
      • In the Linux world....

        it's called "support".
        • In the Linux world it's called support.

          Which often costs tens of thousands of dollars per year.

          • My point exactly

            Also, for tier-1 supported Linux distros, you have to have a support contract just to get updates with your software.
  • RE: Microsoft makes Web development tools available for free

    For example? What would one of those components be?
    • windoze and others

      and many other.
      Expression itself is thousands of dollars.
      Linux Geek
      • Thats not an answer

        You need to back up your claim and childishly spelling windows wrong doesnt prove anything.
      • Linux math is wrong

        Tell me how $599USD is somehow in the "thousands of dollars"....
      • Linux Geek has no talking points

        Look, I can download Linux for free. Woot. Who cares? What do you develop in using Linux? Probably some junky free, bloated, slow Java editor like Eclipse. Anyone who thinks Eclipse is good definitely needs to build a few WPF/Silverlight apps using Visual Studio. BTW, most basic versions of Visual Studio are.. um.. FREE.

        Please don't use Geek in your name. Geeks are people who have lots of facts but are socially an outcase. You're just an outcase.
        A Gray
  • RE: Microsoft makes Web development tools available for free

    Linux Geek:

    I'm sorry, but you're wrong. Take a look at the chart that Mary Jo posted, and it tells you just how much everything costs, based on what audience you are.

    The new WebSiteSpark offers *full* licenses to Expression, for FREE, to Web Developers, Designers and Small Companies building Websites. You can find the details here:

    If you want the small print, it's here:


    Development Licenses:
    Up to 3 copies of Visual Studio
    1 copy of Expression Studio
    Up to 2 copies of Expression Web
    Windows Web Server 2008
    SQL Server 2008 Web Edition

    Production Licenses:
    Windows Web Server 2008
    SQL Server 2008 Web Edition

    -Limited to deploying on 4 procs (i.e. 4 servers of 1 proc, 2 servers of 2 procs etc.)

    • free....uh!

      From M$ document
      [i]Pay a USD $100 Program Offering Fee at the end of their participation with WebsiteSpark.[/i].
      That's biannual fee and when the program ends you have to pay in full.
      And lots of other restrictions for this short lived program.
      FOSS is really free, M$ is very expensive and restrictive.
      Linux Geek
      • "FOSS is realy free"

        ...only if all the modules are licensed under the GPL, and only up until you want tier-1 support.

        When was the last time anybody used the real GNU Linux anyway? Ubuntu, Fedora, and OpenSUSE all have proprietary components that aren't licensed under the GPL, or approved by the FSF, or without software patents - that's why they all offer alternative, "authorized" versions without any of the like. The problem is, nobody uses them, short of maybe Richard Stallman - and he makes more money on a single public appearance advocating the use of free software than most people make from their yearly salary. He could probably be mistaken for a former AIG executive.
      • Wrong again, I'm afraid

        Linux Geek:

        I'm afraid that you are wrong again, and on all counts.

        The $100 is not a biannual fee. That is a one-off fee at the end of the 3 year program.

        There is no other 'pay in full' fee for the 3 years of the program.


      • Nope, The express versions are free

        You're just too narrow-minded to even double-check facts on the web before posting. Linux isn't bad, but you give Linux a bad name.
        A Gray
  • sceptical

    I am sceptical about using MS web development kits. In my experience it takes ages to make end delivery of web pages compatible for non-IE browsers. I dont know why they do that?

    I have seen many websites developed in ASP.NET working poorly on firefox and Chrome. I would steer clear of them.
  • Deja Vu

    Good move and it's about time. It's a return of the old Microsoft, the one
    that made other companies tremble at the very thought of having to
    compete with them. No one, except maybe Sony, seems to fear them any
    more. Giving away software to cut off the competition's air supply is
    something they can easily do as long as they maintain Windows/Office
    dominance. Building monopolies has always been not only Microsoft's
    mission, but also its core competency. Why not use it?
  • RE: Microsoft makes Web development tools available for free

    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)

    And, per Microsoft's Steve Marx, Windows Azure instance(s).